We heard this rumor too around the time Facebook sued German clone StudiVZ, but wasn’t sure how much credence to put in it…now IHT is reporting this as well. It cites a source that the U.S. company had been negotiating for months to try to buy StudiVZ, but couldn’t come to an agreement. Buying the much bigger StudiVz would have given Facebook a foothold in one of the few big Western markets in which it has not established a significant presence, the story reasons. StudiVZ had 12.2 million users in Germany in June, is about 10 times the size of Facebook.de, the German version of the service.
StudiVZ was bought out by Holtzbrinck group, the German publishing giant, for a reported $112 million (IHT says the price was around $134 million, but both numbers were speculations) late in 2006, and the parent wanted many times that reported price. The two companies surely had talks, but one Facebook source IHT quotes says that those were more related to the issue of copying the design. Since Holtzbrinck bought StudiVZ, it has expanded, starting a new portal in February 2007 for middle and high school students called SchulerVZ, and this year added a portal for college graduates called MeinVZ.
With Facebook’s latest redesign, I guess the similarities are less now, though would be interesting to see if other Facebook clones follow.