Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Flixster for Sale (Again)?


Yesterday, a source told me that Flixster, the fast-growing social network for movie lovers, was back in talks to be bought by Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp.

Those IAC-Flixster rumors flew about a month ago and were entirely true.

But no deal, it seems. IAC has apparently found the price too high, according to other sources. But, said these sources, others are still in the game.

So if an acquisition deal does happen, two intelligent guesses to the possible winner for the company with 39.5 million user home pages, more than 1 billion user-generated movie ratings and a sassy motto of “Stop Watching Bad Movies”?

Blockbuster or News Corp.

(Sources said Viacom’s MTV unit gave Flixster a look too, but also thought the price too high.)

The former because the video-rental chain has been mightily trying to break into all kinds of Web markets to give it a place to sell online. Blockbuster has been struggling of late, because of its costly battles with Web sites like Netflix and the growth of video-on-demand and movie downloads via the Internet and cable. Its online subscribership is only 3.1 million.

And the latter, because such a site tucks in nicely with some of the media giant’s properties like MySpace and Rotten Tomatoes, as well as its numerous movie and television arms. (FYI, News Corp. is in the process of acquiring Dow Jones, which is the owner of this site.)

The price? I will wager $150 million in cash that had been previously bandied about, although IAC’s offer was likely much lower than that.

Pricey, yes, since Flixster only has 17 employees and was created less than two years ago. It received $2 million in funding in February from Lightspeed Venture Partners.

But its vibrant Web site is booming and is now one of the largest movie sites on the Internet. Flixster is also one of the more popular widgets on Facebook, with more than 800,000 active daily users.

While Amazon-owned IMDb (Internet Movie Database) is larger in terms of traffic, Flixster is growing much faster.

On the site, users have profiles typical of most general social networks, with a laser-focus on movies, actors, directors and movie quizzes and news. Flixster also has video content, both professional and user-generated and relies heavily on user reviews.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work