Kara Swisher

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Next: Yahoo Also Eyeing Automated Video App Maker Qwiki in $50 Million Deal


According to sources close to the company, Yahoo is considering paying up to $50 million for Qwiki, the New York startup that makes an Apple iPhone app that allow users to turn photos, music and videos into short movies automatically.

While deals such as this often go sideways, sources said that Qwiki and Yahoo are in advanced stages of discussion over the acquisition.

Qwiki recently released that app, but began as a multimedia search offering, with another iPad app that creates video summaries of search terms, as well as other video-creation tools for storytelling. And last year it hooked up with Yahoo news partner ABC News on a publishing platform to quickly create interactive stories.

While all that pivoting seems unusual, the company recently settled on its mobile-only focus, which is just what Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been aiming Yahoo’s efforts at, looking to create a series of daily apps and services to reinvigorate its offerings.

She has also been on the lookout for talent. Qwiki is led by CEO and co-founder Doug Imbruce, but its other co-founder is Louis Monier, the founder of the AltaVista search site, who left the company in 2011.

“We don’t want to be the world’s 10th video-sharing app. There are plenty of those,” said Imbruce to Lauren Goode in an interview in February. “We want to be the first real storytelling app.”

Over its history, Qwiki has raised just over $10 million from a range of investors, including Lerer Ventures and Lightbank, as well as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

This is yet another acquisition target for Yahoo, which has been on a buying spree of late, mostly of inexpensive mobile app companies. But it also forked over $1.1 billion in cash for Tumblr several weeks ago.

Yesterday, I reported that Yahoo was also close to purchasing address book app creator Xobni for $30 million to $40 million.

I reached out to Qwiki for comment, but have not heard back as yet.

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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