Rumors of the imminent buyout of the London-based music social network Last.fm have been doing the rounds recently, with the firmest bets being placed on Viacom, for a fee of of $450 million. Try almost halfing that figure -- $280 million -- and switch your attention to CBS, who according to the LA Times, will announce an acquisition later today.
So why the price reduction? According to the report, the figure "could rise substantially if performance targets are met." So it's in part a performance-based buyout -- with Last.fm being pretty confident that they can meet those targets. The site claims to have more than 15 million monthly users, of which only 4 million are in the US, so there definitely seems like room for growth, state-side alone.
What's in it for CBS? CBS Chief Executive, Leslie Moonves, is quoted as saying that "Last.fm is one of the most well-established, fastest-growing online community networks out there", and that the site's "demographics also play perfectly to CBS' goal to attract younger viewers and listeners."
CBS will also aim to increase advertising revenue from the site, and should be a useful partner in helping Last.fm achieve its goal of extending the site's recommendation features from music alone to video.
It's also clear that this is more evidence of CBS drinking the web 2.0 cool aid -- big time -- with the launch of its CBS Interactive Audience Network, where it has already partnered with AOL, Microsoft, CNET Networks, Comcast, Joost, Bebo, Brightcove, Netvibes, Sling Media and Veoh. And more recently, the company acquired the video blog Wallstrip -- not just to secure the services of the show's dynamic host, Lindsay Campbell, as was widely reported -- but in order to mine the experiences of the team behind Wallstrip, who have been successful in syndicating their content right across the web.
CBS's acquisition of Last.fm the next stage of a strategy that is embracing the social web as a means of reaching more eyeballs (or ears), by bringing content to multiple destinations -- the de-portalization of the web -- rather then through building one central destination.