Evan Williams, the man who co-founded blogger.com foundation Pyra Labs with Meg Hourihan, has put his beleaguered product Odeo up for sale. Odeo is a consumer facing audio service that’s been remarkably high profile about its struggles over the past year; Williams discussed mistakes candidly and bought the company back from investors in October. The site continues to get respectable traffic and Williams believes he will be able to get a fair price for the whole Odeo package. Williams reports the site saw 684,951 visitors last month, 3,012,921 pageviews and perhaps most importantly these days 1,523,963 Flash plays.
AdSense is reportedly paying for Odeo to survive but that development efforts have stalled since the company launched Twitter, an SMS service that’s a favorite among Bay Area web aficionados. Another Evan Williams company, AudioBlogger, was shuttered in November.
People close to Odeo had said that it was changing focus away from the company’s original mission and towards other types of media more than a year ago. Browser based audio messaging is something that a number of other companies, including Evoca and MyChingo, are also trying to make work. Much like user generated video – it’s hard to monetize. SMS services, with money changing hands with every user action, is a different game. It’s one that allows for a lot of innovation as well; the Twittr team is working on microformats for example.
As for Odeo, Williams says that a putting something up for sale doesn’t have to be a sign of desperation and in fact indicates that the seller believes it has value. Williams presumably paid more than $5 million for the company when he bought it back from his investors last year. It will be interesting to see whether anyone wants to spend some good money on it now and what they will do with it.