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Website builder Wix acquires art community DeviantArt for $36M

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Wix.com has made another acquisition to build out the tools that it provides to users to build and administer websites: it has acquired DeviantArt, an online community for artists, designers and art/design enthusiasts with some 325 million individual pieces of original art and more than 40 million registered members, for $36 million in cash, including $3 million of assumed liabilities.

Since being founded in 2000, the company had raised about $13.5 million from backers that included Autodesk, DivX and individual investors. We don’t know what DeviantArt’s valuation was prior to the sale. DeviantArt’s own growth as a business has come largely from word of mouth, with almost no investment made in marketing or advertising.

The transaction closed yesterday, Wix tells me.

Wix said that it will continue to operate DeviantArt as a standalone site, but it will also use it to boost its own business in a couple of ways.

First, DeviantArt users will get access to Wix’s web design tools to build out more dynamic online presences. These tools do not only cover design, but commerce and other features for running businesses online.

That’s another area that Wix has been expanding: just last month the company acquired Flok, a provider of mobile CRM and loyalty services, to expand Wix’s mobile commerce offerings.

Second, Wix will open up DeviantArt’s repository of art and creative community to the Wix platform, giving Wix’s users access to that work to use in their own site building.

“Over its 16-year history, DeviantArt has built an impressive online community that is incredibly loyal, highly engaged and regularly produces stunning art and design,” said Avishai Abrahami, Co-founder and CEO of Wix, in a statement. “The DeviantArt community is talented and robust and hungry for additional product expertise. We understand their passion, share their creative vision and are excited to offer the power of the Wix platform to their millions of artists.”

The deal will also include putting further investment into developing DeviantArt’s desktop and mobile apps. (Today, that desktop experience is based on a very simple, pared-down interface that is reminiscent of the 2000 birthdate of the startup itself.)

And while this isn’t related directly to the deal, it’s also interesting that there is a past synergy of interests between Wix and the startup: some years ago, when a host of new top-level domains were freed up for site addresses, DeviantArt put in a bid to administer the .art TLD. (UK Creative Ideas Ltd eventually won the private auction). Now, would-be website domain administrator is becoming one with a website building platform.

As part of this acquisition, Angelo Sotira, co-founder and CEO of DeviantArt, will join the Wix management team, along with the rest of DeviantArt’s employees. The operation will continue to be based out of LA.

“We founded DeviantArt to enable the creative spirit in everyone, creating a platform dedicated to the vision and talent of the community which could be shared with the world,” said Sotira, in a statement. “This combined effort with Wix creates new opportunities for innovation never before seen on the Internet and an amazing super-charged offering to our community members. We look forward to being part of the Wix team, and we are humbled by the respect and love they have shown to our community.”

Wix, which is traded on Nasdaq and is currently valued at $2.86 billion, said that the deal will increase its revenue outlook by around $8 million, to $417 million – $419 million, and its collections outlook by approximately $9 million to $461 million – $467 million. It will also make some $8 million investments in the platform.

Updated detail related to DeviantArt’s valuation prior to its sale.

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