New York-based video startup Magnify is in the process of acquiring Waywire, the company that Cory Booker founded, to build a consumer-facing business around the curation of videos online. The deal, which was reported earlier today by AllThingsD, isn’t quite done yet, but is expected to close early this week. When it closes, it will give Magnify access to a whole bunch of content deals to go after the nascent curation space.
Since being founded in 2006, Magnify has been building tools to enable others to collect and share videos on the web. For the most part, it’s made money by offering a platform for content providers and video publishers to curate their own videos, along with those of partners, and to give consumers viewing them the opportunity to share via email and social networks.
The idea is to boost engagement — and therefore boost monetization — while also providing detailed analytics about the videos viewed and where viewers came from.
Apparently the folks at Magnify believe that, after however many years, the time is right for consumers to begin curating videos in the same way they curate and pin articles and whatever else on sites like Pinterest. That’s a bit of a transition for Magnify, which has been focused on the enterprise side of the market for the last few years.
In fact, at one point Magnify had a free, consumer-facing tool for video curation. It shut that service down a few years ago, however, to go after the more lucrative enterprise market opportunity.
So why buy its way back into consumer business? According to a source familiar with the deal, Waywire has one thing that Magnify doesn’t right now — and that’s deals with a bunch of media companies. Acquiring Waywire will give Magnify instant access to a library of videos from companies like AOL, Yahoo, and MSNBC, which consumers would be able to curate, collect, and share.
And it’ll be able to do so without a whole lot of technical build out. The consumer-facing service will live on Waywire.com, but will use the Magnify backend to power its curation tools, we’ve heard.
For Waywire, the acquisition should put to bed a bunch of questions about its viability and Senate-hopeful Cory Booker’s role in the startup. While he was one of the company’s three founders, in the wake of his Senate campaign, the mayor of Newark stepped down from the board and donated his part of the business to charity. Booker wasn’t the only co-founder to depart: Then-CEO Nathan Richardson left the company in August and a few weeks later re-emerged as head of AOL’s new live news program.
Sarah Ross, the third co-founder and last remaining member of the founding team, is not expected to stick around for day-to-day operations after the acquisition, either, but will remain on in an advisory capacity.
Magnify has raised a little more than $5 million in funding since 2006, including $1 million earlier this year from investors that include TED producer Chris Anderson and former Facebook chief privacy officer Chris Kelly.