News Corp., via MySpace, acquired photo/video sharing site Photobucket back in 2007 for $250 million, plus a $50 million earnout. We’ve now learned through a source with knowledge of the deal that MySpace is in the process of selling at least a majority interest in Photobucket. The likely buyer? Disney-backed Ontela, a Washington state startup.
Photobucket has grown steadily since the acquisition, and currently brings in 54 million worldwide users each month (Comscore). But MySpace never integrated with Photobucket, keeping their own separate photo and video platforms.
It’s been little more than a side show ever since the acquisition, and the founders have left to do other projects. With News Corp. scrambling to fix up its digital division, it’s no wonder Photobucket has been on the chopping block.
Best of all, the deal will bring in new cash to News Corp.
It’s not clear that the final terms have been worked out. But our source tells us that News Corp. will sell a majority stake in Photobucket, retaining some equity. If Ontela is the buyer, the merged company will take a new round of financing, with most of the cash going to News Corp., and part of it going into the new company.
Presumably this deal won’t look much different from eBay’s spinoff of StumbleUpon earlier this year, except on a larger scale. News Corp. gets a cash injection and retains a portion of Photobucket. And the service, combined with Ontela or another buyer, gets a new start.
Ontela didn’t return a request for comment. MySpace isn’t answering their phones or email. Everyone is being very quiet about the deal in general, in fact. We’ll update as we learn more.
Update: more details here.