San Francisco based HotOrNot, founded by James Hong and Jim Young in October 2000, has been acquired, we’ve heard from multiple sources.
The buyers are investors connected with Avid Life Media, and paid somewhere around $20 million for the site. Hong and and Young have been taking money out of the very profitable business all along the way – which we reported was another $20 million or in May 2007. HotOrNot never raised outside funding.
The investors are creating a new company, called HotOrNot Media (new site coming soon), and they may be acquiring more properties as well.
I spoke with Hong a few moments ago, who confirmed the acquisition, which closed on Friday, but not the price. He says he and Jim will not be affiliated with the business on a day to day basis going forward. “We’ve been working on HotOrNot for seven years now,” said Hong, adding “It’s time to break up with this girlfriend.”
HotOrNot makes money from advertising, virtual flowers and a premium fee when users want to connect. They experimented briefly with a free model, but abandoned it last September in the face of overwhelming spam. Their annual revenue is estimated to be around $5 million, with $2 million in profit. According to Comscore, the site has around 5 million monthly unique visitors and 200 million page views.