UPDATE: May 30: "MySpace wants photobucket? Where is Google!", I asked earlier this month (see story below).
"The acquisition is a perfect strategic fit for us that reinforces FIM's leadership in user-generated content," said Peter Levinsohn, President of Fox Interactive Media.
MAY 8, 2007: News Corp’s Fox Interactive Media (FIM) nears deal to buy Photobucket, is the latest M & A industry chatter/rumor.
Photobucket allows its users to store photos and videos and then easily drop them into their pages on prominent sites like Facebook, eBay and particularly MySpace, a FIM property.
The deal is not yet complete, but the parties have ironed out major issues and are focusing on finer points, according to this (unidentified) person, who said the price could be as high as $300 million.
Photobucket has become the largest and fastest-growing photo-sharing service on the Web. Unlike rival photo sites such as Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly and Yahoo’s Flickr, Photobucket positioned itself as a tool for people using sites like MySpace, rather than a place to get prints made or to interact with other photographers. A year ago, it said it had 14 million members. Photobucket now cites 41 million users.
The site is free for basic use, but charges $25 a year for a premium subscription that includes extra storage space and the ability to store videos more than five minutes long. It also displays advertisements to users when they manage their accounts.
What’s the Photobucket-MySpace deal story? Michael Arrington declares “Photobucket was a steal v. Google/YouTube.”
The real story though is that there is NO Photobucket-Google deal!
WHY NOT? After all the (rumored) $250 million cash and $50 million earn out provision for the “ largest and fastest-growing photo-sharing service on the Web” is but pocket change for the $3.1 billion all cash DoubleClick acquirer and $1.65 billion all stock YouTube acquirer.
Heck, Google could readily sweeten the deal, and what a deal it could be! Photobucket photo-sharing “Queen” to complement YouTube video-sharing "King!”
Here are some reasons why:
1) Google wanted YouTube because it was deemed the largest and fastest growing video sharing service on the Web; Photobucket matches profile in images category.
2) Google is keen on driving Video Search, plus Image Search, touting “the most comprehensive image search on the Web.”
3) Google is deemed to have bought YouTube in part to prevent News Corp. from “owning” both the social networking and video sharing markets; What about a defensive anti-FIM purchase of Photobucket in the photo sharing market?
4) Shouldn’t all video sharers be photos sharers and vice-versa?
5) YouTube is a free service; Photobucket has a premium paying service. Google wants to diversify into fee for services models, why not have two media sharing brands with different models addressing diverse consumer needs? Plus, Photobucket is not advertising averse.
6) MySpacers like YouTube, and Photobucket.
7) Archrival Yahoo owns Photobucket rival Flickr.
8) Google-YouTube because "Who needs Google Video?"; Google-Photobucket because "Who needs Google Picasa (Web Albums)?"
Eric Schmidt, are you listening?