MySpace Confirms iLike Acquisition. Conference Call Livenotes

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As expected, MySpace has confirmed that it bought iLike. It is not disclosing financial terms, but our information is that it was around $20 million.

During the conference call, Van Natta stressed the importance of music, open content distribution, and talent as the main drivers behind the deal. He also put to rest misinformed speculation that there was any delay in the deal due to tax issues or a canceled iLike board meeting. “I have been doing deals for 15 years now, and this was one of the smoother sailing deals,” says Van Natta.

Both iLike’s employees and management team will now work for MySpace, but will remain an autonomous unit based in Seattle. Throughout the conference call, Van Natta’s first, he stressed his desire to make MySpace as open as possible and he cast the iLike acquisition as complementary to MySpace in that it is a distributed application across many social networks. “People want to interact in many places. We will take that strategy and apply it across the Web,” he said. Later he reiterated, “The thrust of this is distributed web, how can we serve users in a more distributed way.”

The implication, of course, being that rival Facebook is not so open (although Mark Zuckerberg would beg to differ). Van Natta couldn’t hep but give his former employer a not-so-subtle dig: “We are a much more open network. People can explore each other interests, much more so than on other social networks.”

One of the big questions around the deal was why isn’t iLike becoming part of MySpace Music. Van Natta addressed this issue by suggesting that iLike’s recommendation system will be applied to other content on MySpace, including videos and games. He also confirmed that there are no plans at this time to introduce music streaming from MySpace Music into iLike, but he did say that the two businesses would work together to grow the event ticketing business.

My full notes are below (I’ve bolded parts for emphasis):

Owen Van Natta: This is the first time I am speaking with you since taking on the role of CEO a few months ago. In that time we have restructured and hired some talented people. This is an official announcement that MySpace has entered into an agreement acquired iLike

This decision based on 3 things:

1. need to innovate. Music is part of people’s lives. We strengthen our ability to innovate in this area.

2. shared belief in open content distribution. People want to interact in many places. We will take that strategy and apply it across the Web.

3. Great people. Expect to see continued news about great talent coming to MySpace.

MySpace is a place where people can broadcast, discover, and express themselves. Where culture gets defined through social experiences around entertainment. By combining two models We believe that what iLike has created is not limited to music, can be extended to video and games. Because we see it as bigger than music, we are making this apart from MySpace Music.

iLike’s founders (CEO Ali Partovi, President Hadi Partovi and CTO Nat Brown) will remain and will stay in Seattle. In addition 26 employees joining MySpace.

Q&A

Q: Any guidance on new applications we can expect?

Owen: We will take all the great things iLike has meant for users and extend all the things MySPace does with users and extend that. You will be able to see a broader experience.

Q: How is this purchase going to affect iLike’s partnership with Facebook?

Owen: iLike is part of many social networks. My expectation is that social networks will be thrilled that we are going to be making iLike an even richer experience in their environments.

Q: deal terms and how integrated into MySpace music

Owen: We have not disclosed deal terms. iLike has a great product we will continue to extend, a phenomenal management team. Allowing that team to operate autonomously is an important part of it.

Q: reports that iLike was poised to offer its own music store? Is this a defensive move to shortcut that?

Owen: No, the thrust of this is distributed web, how can we serve users in a more distributed way.

Q: Will streaming from MySpace Music be offered through iLike? Also there was speculation that the deal was delayed because of tax issues or a canceled iLike board meeting. Can you comment on that?

Owen: first Q about extending MySpace Music into iLike, we have no plans to do that at this time. On your second question, I read some of the reports, I have been doing deals for 15 years now, and this was one of the smoother sailing deals.

Q: So there was no delay due to tax or other issues.

Owen: No delay

Q: Update on MySpace music

Owen: MySpace music has been doing extremely well, 1,000% growth since launch, 200% year over year in usage. It will continue to serve users for many years to come.

Q: What does MySpace get from iLike?

Q: For example,If you look at the recommendation engine that users get on iLike, that is something you could apply elsewhere in MySpace. iLike is a big generator of ticket sales, something MySpace Music has started, that will accelerate, a better experience combined than either could on its own.

Q: If iLike develops its own music store, will that hurt your relationship with Amazon?

Owen: No, we don’t expect it to. iLike has just launched an MP3 purchasing functionality on its platform. Clearly users are buying music in a number of different ways. We want to serve users

Q: Would there be better margins?

Owen: What we are really focused on with MySpace Music, and iLike is also, is the discovery, and the socialization around that content. We are a much more open network. People can explore each other interests, much more so than on other social networks.

Q: Will iLike management team have any broader role?

Owen: First and foremost we want to make sure we don’t disrupt anything they are doing. They have a lot of things in development. This is a very talented group of executives, and the entire team. leveraging that talent more broadly across MySpace is something we will definitely pursue.

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