Digital Media M&A


Viacom-Owned Paramount Buys Game Developer ScreenLife — Paramount Pictures, the Viacom-owned movie studio, has made its first gaming related acquisition: it has bought Seattle-based game developer ScreenLife, the creator of the popular DVD game “Scene It?”. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but last week SeattlePI first broke the story and mentioned that the deal is “for less than $100 million”. Screenlife will continue to operate as a standalone company, but will report into Paramount Digital Entertainment. Scene was launched in 2002 as a series of video-based trivia games..it has since sold about 15 million titles on the DVD, mobile, VOD and video game platforms. The company has over 25 DVD game titles on the market. Screenlife raised $7 million in angel financing in 2003, and a total of about $10 million.

Online Marketer AdEx Buys Lead Gen Company Bay Harbor Marketing — AdEx Media has bought the lead gen business of Bay Harbor Marketing, LLC, a California limited liability company. The terms were not disclosed. AdEx plans to absorb Bay Harbor Marketing’s software to round out its own affiliate marketing and lead gen business. This is Mountain View, CA.-based AdEx’s second purchase in less than a month. It bought Digital Instructor, a marketer of “how-to” courses on CD, in mid-August.

Gannett Pays Tribune $135 Million To Acquire Majority Stake In CareerBuilder –Gannett (NYSE: GCI) has acquired an additional 10 percent stake in CareerBuilder from the troubled Tribune for $135 million. That gives Gannett a 50.8 percent controlling interest in the online jobs site. Tribune, which has been trying to find ways to turn around its financial and debt woes, now owns 30.8 percent of CareerBuilder. The shared ownership doesn’t affect the other partners in CareerBuilder, which includes The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI), which continues to own 14.4 percent; and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) continues to own 4 percent. Under the new ownership arrangement, Gannett has three seats on the six-seat CareerBuilder board. Tribune and McClatchy have one seat each and CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson has one seat as part of his position. Sam Zell said in a statement that this deal helps “monetize some of the value CareerBuilder has built over the years…while enabling us to maintain a significant stake in a great online property.”

Publicis Looks Westward For Latest Acquisition, Seattle’s PBJS — Although WPP Group and its ad holding company rival Publicis Groupe have been concentrating more in Asia and other emerging markets for their digital acquisitions lately, it seems there are still a few independent targets to be found in the U.S. One of the remaining ones was Seattle’s PBJS, which was just picked up by Publicis. Terms weren’t disclosed. The five-year-old shop concentrates on on “multichannel events” and branded entertainment, including webcasting and video production. The main thing that drew Publicis to PBJS was access to the agency’s biggest client: Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT). That could bring more closeness between Microsoft and Publicis, which is working with the software giant, as well as Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and AOL (NYSE: TWX) on an open source ad network. The 26-person PBJS will continue to operate independently, though it will exist within Publicis Events Worldwide unit. Founder and CEO Bob Bejan will remain in that role, reporting to John Farrell, President & CEO of SAMS.

Ad Network Traffic Marketplace Buys Click-to-Chat Banner Provider Livemarkets — Online ad net Traffic Marketplace has acquired Livemarkets, a company that lets individuals strike up chat sessions with marketers within banner ads. Terms were not disclosed. The basic proposition behind Livemarkets, which was founded last year, is that consumers will click on an ad to chat with a customer service rep about the product featured in a banner. In one example on the company’s site, a consumer might click on a banner ad for a car to ask about a test drive. The “click-to-chat” function can work within any ad unit, Livemarkets says. As for Los Angeles-based Traffic Marketplace, the company bills itself as a “business-to-audience” ad net. It claims 30 billion ad impressions every month, delivering more than 20 million leads through its targeted display ads.

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