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August 19, 2009 at 11:49 AM

It’s done: iLike sold to MySpace, staying in Seattle

MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta just confirmed his company bought Seattle music startup iLike.

He said the 26-person social music startup will remain based in Seattle and no layoffs will result.

MySpace bought the company for its “world class talent,” technology and services distributed around the Web, which complements the centralized experience MySpace now offers its users, he said.

“Both iLike and MySpace have a shared belief in open content distribution,” he said. “The Web is moving from a centralized experience to one where people want to interact in many different places. One of the great things about MySpace is that its openness encourages discovery and the socialization of content. We’re going to take that strategy and apply it across the Web.”

Vam Natta wouldn’t confirm the rumored sales price — one report said $13.5 million plus an $8 million retention payout — but noted that iLike has 55 million users and generates 1.5 billion monthly Web impressions.

Also deflected were questions about the unusual situation with MySpace arch rival Facebook, where iLike is a dominant music application. Van Natta said he hopes iLike will continue to operate across numerous social Web sites. (Here’s a 2007 column about how iLike took off on Facebook’s platform.)

MySpace — a subsidiary of media colossus News Corp. — hopes to extend iLike’s technology for discovering and sharing music to other content such as video and games.

“It really has leverage across all the different entertainment categories,” Van Natta said.

iLike founders Hadi Partovi and Ali Partovi – both Microsoft veterans – didn’t participate in the conference call. Perhaps they’re shopping for new Ferraris.

In a news release, Hadi Partovi said:

“MySpace’s strengths have been a long-time source of inspiration for iLike. Combining MySpace’s existing platform, reach and resources with iLike’s syndication network and social discovery tools creates the potential for truly exciting innovation and commerce across any vertical entertainment category — our combined assets now span all the major social networks. I’m enthusiastic about what this combination will mean for our users, artists, advertisers, and our staff. We are beginning an exciting new journey together.”

The Partovis had reportedly been shopping iLike for months while rolling out new services for bands and extending its reach to the iPhone.

Perhaps they were under pressure from primary backer Ticketmaster, which in March wrote down the value of its $13.3 million iLike investment by $5.8 million.

The 2006 funding valued iLike at $53.2 million, but it wasn’t ready to sell at the time.

Hadi Partovi declined to comment but wrote on the iLike blog that “we’re thrilled” to announce the MySpace deal.

“On a personal note, it’s a humbling moment for Ali and me,” he wrote. “We’ve always used MySpace as a benchmark to measure our own progress in the online world of social music. Having built the most popular music services on the other social networks, we never imagined that we’d someday team up with MySpace, and we’re excited to see what we can accomplish as one team.”

Comments | Topics: iLike, myspace


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