Digital Media M&A


Amazon Acquires Fabric.com — US retail giant, Amazon, has acquired online fabric store Fabric.com in a bid to further its range of products. The deal, which was closed for undisclosed terms, will see Amazon expand its current selection of sewing, craft and hobby items in the US with patterns, fabrics and sewing accessories. “Over the years, we’ve seen a growing interest in this segment from our customers,” says the VP of Amazon.com’s home and garden division, Chris Nielsen, speaking about the acquisition. Fabric.com CEO, Stephen Friedman adds: “We now have the opportunity to significantly expand our breadth of inventory, as well as benefit from the technology, fulfillment and customer service expertise of Amazon.com.”

Microsoft Acquiring Semantic Searcher Powerset For $100 Million: Report — Well if it can’t get Yahoo’s search business… Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) will acquire semantic search engine Powerset for more than $100 million, according to Matt Marshall at VentureBeat. His exact language is that the company “has agreed to acquire” the company and that it will be announced next month. SF-based Powerset has been something of a media darling, despite the fact that it hasn’t taken off yet. In 2006 it raised a $12.5 million first round from Foundation Capital and The Founders Fund, as well as various angels, including Esther Dyson and PayPal founder Luke Nosek. Despite years of interest in “semantic” or “natural language” search, this area is a long way from proving that it works much better than current search technology. VentureBeat also reports that its first round valued the company at $42.5 million, so this wouldn’t be a huge win for the investors. But given the uncertainty of this area, and the cash requirements of an independent search engine, this might’ve looked like a pretty attractive outcome.

Microsoft To Buy Portuguese Mobile App Firm, MobiComp — Microsoft has agreed to buy Portuguese mobile app developer MobiComp for an undisclosed sum, marking its latest push into the mobile software industry. Founded in Braga, Portugal, in 2000, MobiComp develops mobile applications, including a backup service and tools to create and share content. The 40-strong private company claims to be profitable and counts Vodafone, MTN and Nokia among its clients. 

eBay Acquires Media-Sharing Firm VUVOX — eBay has quietly acquired media-sharing and mash-up firm, VUVOX. The deal – which was closed for undisclosed terms – will see VUVOX integrated into eBay, allowing users to embed VUVOX media tools into their personal listings. VUVOX’s staff will join eBay’s design and development teams in California, says eBay employee Richard Brewer-Hay on the auction site’s official blog eBay Ink.

Nokia Buys Location-Based Social Network Plazes — Nokia is acquiring location-based social network Plazes for an undisclosed sum, pursuing its expansion into the mobile services and location sector. Plazes will remain in Berlin and join Nokia’s services unit which includes staff from gate5, a navigation firm that Nokia acquired two years ago. The acquisition follows Nokia’s announcement last month that it expects to sell 35m GPS-enabled phones this year.

Liberty Media Acquires Party Site Celebrate Express For $31 Million — Another e-commerce buy for Liberty Media… this time it is buying out small, publicly traded Celebrate Express, a party supply retailer, for $31 million. At $3.90 per share, the deal represents a 69 percent premium over the company’s $2.30 closing price. Celebrate Express, which traded in the $20s just a few years ago, operates under such brands as Birthday Express and 1st Wishes. The new company will be attributed to the Liberty Interactive Group, and it will be combined with Liberty’s BUYSEASONS business, which operates in the same area. Liberty has made a number of deals for e-commerce companies, including its taking a major stake in BodyBuilding.com and outdoor retailer BackCountry.

Providence And Carlyle Confirm Takeover Talks With Informa — UK publisher Informa is negotiating an all-cash sale to a consortium led by Providence Equity Partners and the Carlyle Group and including Hellman & Friedman. Based on Informa’s stock value on Fri (20 Jun), the firm is worth GBP1.85bn (USD3.65bn), which would make the takeover one of the largest deals in the history of UK publishing industry. However, the bidders say talks are “at an early stage” and there is “no certainty” that they will eventually make an offer.

The Orchard Buys TVT Records Out of Bankruptcy — The Orchard, the digital music label, has bought out TVT Records after a New York bankruptcy court declared its bid the winner on Thursday. The company will gain control of TVT’s catalog, artist contracts and physical record distribution infrastructure, but will not receive holdings in its music publishing subsidiary.

Getty Images Shareholders Approve PE Buyout — Getty Images, the Seattle based images and multimedia giant, has a shareholder approval on its $2.1 billion sale to private equity firm Hellman & Friedman. About 75 percent of the shares represented at the shareholder meeting were in favor of the deal, representing 96 percent of the votes cast.

Fandango acquires Movies.com from Walt Disney — Fandango, the nation’s leading moviegoer destination, today announced that it acquired Movies.com, a leading movie content site previously owned by the Walt Disney Internet Group, a unit of The Walt Disney Company. The synergy of these two well-established and popular movie sites, both launched in 2000, will create new opportunities for exhibitors, studios, advertisers and other partners to reach the movie-going audience, and will provide additional information and entertainment for moviegoers. Fandango’s advertising sales force will represent both sites with a wide variety of advertisers.

IPC Media To Acquire Mousebreaker Website — IPC Media, the UK magazine publishing arm of Time Warner, is to buy Mousebreaker, a gaming website, the Financial Times reported. IPC declined to comment on the deal size, according to the newspaper. The item appeared alongside an article about Yell Group. The deal could take place today (24 June), the report said. The deal size is believed to be in the in the range of GBP 1m (EUR 1.27m) to GBP 10m, according to the report.

Travel Social Network WAYN Admits To Takeover Talks — Travel social network WAYN has held talks with unnamed suitors over a possible takeover, the firm’s chief executive tells StrategyEye. CEO Peter Ward reveals he has met a number of interested parties, but says WAYN wants to grow its business further before selling itself. “We have had a lot of inbound interest and we have met with many other companies,” says Ward. “We believe that to maintain our positioning and grow the business from now holds a lot more value for us than to sell.” However, he acknowledges that selling the platform is definitely part of the firm’s long term strategy, without disclosing a timescale.

Social Media Ad Firm ViTrue Buys Rival UGENmedia — ViTrue, the social media ad firm backed by Comcast and Turner Broadcasting, has acquired competitor UGENmedia for an undisclosed sum. Founded in 2006 by former DoubleClick executives, UGENmedia helps clients develop, deploy and distribute social media marketing programs. Atlanta-based ViTrue says the deal will enhance its ability to offer turnkey social media solutions while providing a strategic New York presence.

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