Seattle-based Ontela, which builds software that helps users upload their photos from the phone to their favorite photo-sharing sites, may be close to acquiring Photobucket, which is owned by News Corp.’s MySpace. TechCrunch reports that a source with knowledge of the deal says that MySpace is in the process of selling at least a majority stake in Photobucket, and the likely buyer is Ontela, which is a close partner of photo-sharing site. Ontela’s CEO Dan Shapiro declined to comment. Another report, also from TC, says the price is around $60 million, and Steamboat Ventures will putting $40 million or more in additional capital into Ontela as a result. This is a huge climbdown from the $300 or so total News Corp (NYSE: NWS) paid to buy Photobucket two years ago. Update: Rafat adds: the talks are happening. Only a matter of when the deal closes, and on what terms.
Photobucket has about 54 million worldwide users each month, according to *Comscore*, but was never integrated with MySpace, which has their own separate photo and video platforms. To be sure a lot of Photobucket’s growth is likely coming from mobile. According to Flickr, the number one camera is now the iPhone. Two weeks ago, Ontela released results of a survey that concluded the traditional film camera is nearly dead.
TechCrunch says the details have not been worked out yet, but that it’s likely News Corp. will retain some equity in Photobucket, and that if Ontela is indeed the buyer, it will raise a new round of funding with most of the cash going to News Corp.
Ontela has raised capital as recently as February. Investors include Disney’s Steamboat Ventures, Hunt Ventures, Oak Investment Partners and Voyager Capitalhttp://www.techcrunch.com/2009/10/16/myspace-close-to-spinning-off-photobucket/.