- WEB STARTUPS
- WEB JOBS
- ALL TOPICS
Somehow I thought this year would be the end for the Blockbuster Express kiosk machines. Back in November they changed their pricing model and it seemed like it just became a lot more expensive to rent from Blockbuster Express versus rival RedBox. As an infrequent movie renter, I found the Redbox machines to have a better selection and a better price – and you can nearly always find a free movie rental code for RedBox.
Today RedBox has agreed to acquire the kiosks and “other assets” from Blockbuster Express. RedBox notes in their release that the deal is worth up to $100 million. Interesting note, RedBox is actually owned by Coinstar, the company that makes the coin counting machines found in supermarkets. I use the Coinstar machines all the time because they charge no fee to convert the change into an Amazon gift certificate.
How long now before Netflix buys out Blockbuster mail service?
I also wonder what happens to all the codes for Blockbuster Express that I bought on Groupon/LivingSocial – better use those quick!
Here’s the email that I just received from their customer email list:
Dear Valued Customer,
NCR, which operates your Blockbuster Express kiosks, has entered into an agreement to sell its kiosks and other assets to Redbox. Until the transaction is completed (we anticipate in the third quarter of 2012), you will continue to enjoy the convenience, choice, and value you’re used to from BLOCKBUSTER Express. Until the sale is completed, we will continue to run the business as we have been, focused on bringing you the latest New Release movies with most titles only $2 for the first night. You’ll also notice that we’ve increased our In-Stock Guarantee value so you will now enjoy a movie night on us with a value of up to $3 if we don’t have the New Release movie you want in stock.
As a reminder, we still have 100s of great movies available at $1 and additional nights of all movies are still only $1, all part of preserving an exceptional value for an affordable night of entertainment.
We’ll continue to provide you with information on any changes that result from this recent announcement but for now we just wanted to say thanks for being our customer.
Announced this morning, Q&A and “expert chat” service Sprouter has found a buyer in fellow Canadian company Postmedia Network. It was back in July that Sprouter founder Sarah Prevette announced that the service would be closing due to lack of revenue. In August, the Sprouter team noted that they wouldn’t be shutting down and that they were in discussions with several parties to continue the service. The amount of the acquisition was not disclosed although the people I’ve spoken with this morning all assume it was very small but were pleased that the service will live on.
Sprouter put together a faq about the aquisition where they note that the acquisition price won’t be disclosed. It looks like the company will be run as a division of Postmedia Network and is looking to hire a business development expert.
They also have provided a description of what Sprouter is, “…where founders get help with their startups. Sprouter allows entrepreneurs to get curated answers to small business questions from people who know what they’re talking about.” The Postmedia network describes their offering as, “the largest publisher by circulation of paid English-language daily newspapers in Canada, representing some of the country’s oldest and best known media brands.”
The big story today outside of the OMG white OMG iPhone OMG was the acquisition of the Delicious bookmarking site. Former owner Yahoo has sold the bookmarking service to the founders of online video sharing service YouTube and their new company AVOS. In reviewing about 20 blog/news posts about the acquisition, so far there has been no chatter about the acquisition price.
Back in December, Yahoo hinted that they would close Delicious service – a move I noted would hurt Yahoo within the developer/early adopter tech community. I also thought the best place for Delicious would be to be acquired by commenting service Disqus. I still think Disqus should consider expanding into bookmarking as it would make the service more sticky and could provide even more benefits to publishers.
This evening I received an email from Yahoo regarding the Delicious acquisition. There are a couple of interesting bits that got me wondering exactly what did YouTube founder Steve Chen and Chad Hurley purchase? I assumed when I read all of the copies of the press releases that the Delicious site would be put onto a blu-ray disc, handed off to AVOS, and then the entire service would be available as it is today but now hosted by AVOS.
Online video search/ads provider Blinkx has announced the acquisition of ad network Burst Media today. The deal will be made up of stock and cash with a total value of $30 million. Congrats to the Burst team who have been cranking online ads since the earliest days of the banner ad.
Ryan Lawler at GigaOm notes, “Blinkx will pay $4.5 million in cash as part of the deal, with the remainder being paid through the issuance of new shares of stock…In exchange, Blinkx expects Burst Media revenues of around $33-$34 million.”
This is an interesting acquisition for me as I was one of the first publishers with Burst Media way back before there was a YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter. It’s been interesting to watch Burst change (or not) over the last decade. I’ve often said that they didn’t move fast enough as ad creatives changed.
The main reason I’ve stayed with Burst over the last few years is because of their member forum. The community on the forum is great and provides a very diverse view of online advertising across a wide variety of industries and niches. I sure hope that Blinkx doesn’t shut the forum down after the acquisition is complete.
AT&T (NYSE: T) has announced plans to acquire the United States edition of T-Mobile for $39 billion. The transaction will be made up of $25 billion in cash plus the balance in AT&T common stock. The announcement notes that the price could vary slightly to make sure that Deutsche Telekom receives at least a 5 percent equity ownership interest in AT&T. Both boards have approved the deal – now it will get some U.S. government review.
The cash portion of the deal will be financed from new debt and cash on the AT&T balance sheet.
Couple notes from the acquisition release:
- “With this transaction, AT&T commits to a significant expansion of robust 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) deployment to 95 percent of the U.S. population to reach an additional 46.5 million Americans beyond current plans”
- “As part of the transaction, Deutsche Telekom will receive an equity stake in AT&T that, based on the terms of the agreement, would give Deutsche Telekom an ownership interest in AT&T of approximately 8 percent. A Deutsche Telekom representative will join the AT&T Board of Directors.”
People I talked to at SXSW who use T-Mobile seem to like the service but I rarely hear of people using T-Mobile. Typically I hear of AT&T, Verizon and Sprint as carriers when I talk to our customers and/or startups showing me their mobile apps.
Update: I like Brett Nordquist’s comment, “Congratulations to Apple for bringing the iPhone to T-Mobile.”
Update 2: CNBC money guy Jim Cramer noted, “Tacit admission that $T needed more infrastructure to handle its business…”
Earlier this month AOL (NYSE:AOL) acquired the Huffington Post blog for $315 million. I posted on Twitter that I wondered if online video hosting service Viddler would be next for the “new” AOL. I still think the acquisition makes sense for both companies.
AOL has a large number of brands (and will be even larger once the above acquisition is complete) and I have to imagine that video will be a large piece of AOL’s pageview generating strategy going forward. Today AOL has a video site and they also own the Truveo video search engine.
Viddler currently works with AOL’s Engadget tech blog for their gadget videos. AOL’s Techcrunch blog uses Ooyala for their video hosting and this hosting could easily move to Viddler if there was an acquisition. It appears that the videos on AOL’s video site are self-hosted.
I am not 100% sure but I think Viddler has only raised some angel funding (which is quite impressive considering they are in the video hosting business). Viddler also received $50,000 from Ben Franklin Technology Partners last April. Viddler lists a team of 16 people based outside Philly and in Poland.
My guess is that AOL could acquire Viddler for a very reasonable price and bring a strong base of video hosting, video analytics and monetization inside the company. If there was an acquisition, Viddler would become the corporate hosting platform. This central repository would help AOL cross-promote videos across all of their channels. There is tremendous opportunity in cross-promotion that AOL is losing everyday by hosting with so many different video partners. For example, when you are finished watching the latest iPad 3 unboxing video on Engadget, you could jump over to Techcrunch to watch the latest TechCribs video.
AOL would also gain the ability to use their internal ad sales team to sell and integrate video ads across all of their properties.
The only question I am left with regarding a potential acquisition is whether Viddler would remain open to other companies to use — they currently host video content from a variety of companies including Gawker and the Cheezburger Network.
Last night sure was interesting — everyone on Twitter was bitching about the Groupon ads, cheering for the Chrysler ad, and there was very little actual football chatter from what I could tell. Then at 9:01 Pacific time, the conversation on Twitter changed in the tech sector. Kara Swisher and the NYT posted that the Huffington Post was acquired by AOL. Congrats to everyone involved – looks like this was a very large acquisition for the content network that recently acquired a number of blogs and technology providers.
What I immediately thought was, “wow, this fits perfectly with the AOL Way where they want to generate massive pageviews with little work”. Last week I put a URL into my bookmarks for later usage on a story about content scraping. The URL was from a post on HuffPo about some topless photos of actress Olivia Wilde. Apparently Wilde did a shoot (she was covered) in FHM magazine. The reason the link was interesting to me is that FHM magazine goes after any outlet that posts their images online. So could the HuffingtonPost really have posted these images? NOPE! What do you get when you land on the page titled, “Olivia Wilde Goes TOPLESS In FHM France (PHOTOS)”? You get one tiny paragraph of content and a link to another website. But you also get thousands of pixels in other non-related “stuff”.
When you put something in parens (Photos, Video, etc.) in a story title, you expect that the thing is actually located within the post.
So what did AOL pay for when they acquired HuffingtonPost for $315 million? Did they get one of the biggest SEO plays out there? Today on the investor call, Ariana Huffington said something about how they create quality content at cost-effective prices. I am not a regular reader of the HuffingtonPost – mainly because every link I follow ends up being a scrape or a let down in quality or quantity of content.
I am certain that most of the content on HuffPo is probably of good length and quality — but is it these types of articles that drive the pageviews to let them create the other quality content?