Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hulu Still Beating the IPO Drum

Could Hulu really go public? Absolutely! That’s the line Hulu has been putting out for months now, and Reuters has an update: The news service says the video site is contemplating raising up to $300 million, at a $2 billion valuation, via a 2011 IPO.

If that’s the case, we could see a prospectus filed by the end of 2010, with the help of Morgan Stanley.

Except! It may not happen at all, Reuters acknowledges: An IPO “is one of several options under consideration” and “their options include attracting other media companies to contribute new programming or raising more money from existing partners.”

So maybe, maybe not.

Here’s what we do know:

  • Hulu needs more money to help secure more content so it can keep competing against Netflix (NFLX), Google (GOOG) and Apple (AAPL), among others.
  • At some point, Hulu needs to be able to offer liquidity to its early employees.
  • Convincing public investors that Hulu’s three broadcast owners — Disney’s (DIS) ABC, News Corp.’s (NWS) Fox and GE’s (GE) NBC (soon to be Comcast’s NBC)–is theoretically possible. Because they have an obvious incentive to make it work. But all three companies continue to send signals that indicate they have mixed feelings about the JV. Which will make an IPO awfully tricky.

Big money + conflict makes for good drama, no? If they put it on the air, I’d watch.

Meanwhile, here’s a clip from “The Office,” which I haven’t been able to see this season but plan to watch on Hulu sooner than later. Not coincidentally, this kind of catch-up viewing is the service’s strong suit:


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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