I had a chance to chat briefly Wednesday with iLike Chief Executive Ali Partovi about reports that he's shopping the Seattle-based social-music service to potential buyers, including RealNetworks and Ticketmaster.
Excerpts from the blog
I had a chance to chat briefly Wednesday with iLike Chief Executive Ali Partovi about reports that he’s shopping the Seattle-based social-music service to potential buyers, including RealNetworks and Ticketmaster.
Partovi wouldn’t confirm any sale talks, but he didn’t deny that something more than turkey’s cooking.
He did dispute one element in the initial report, on the MediaMemo blog Monday, that suggested iLike executives and investors are concerned about the company’s ability to stay afloat and independent.
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The 2-year-old company isn’t profitable yet, and competitors such as MySpace Music (which shares the same parent company as MediaMemo) are coming on strong, but Partovi’s not too concerned.
“I don’t have any worries about our ability to continue operating as a stand-alone entity, in contrast to something that was mentioned in the original rumor,” he said.
Partovi said iLike isn’t in the same boat as ad-supported music-streaming services, which are more expensive to operate. Although iLike gives users free music, there are limitations and the offer is aimed at converting users to subscribers of RealNetworks’ Rhapsody service or buyers at iTunes and Amazon.com.
“Our offering is more conservative … it’s a more sustainable model,” he explained
Most every startup is probably for sale nowadays, one way or the other. I wonder if iLike’s getting pressure from its investors to cash in and shore up their portfolios.
TicketMaster’s the biggest investor, with a 25 percent stake that valued iLike at $53 million in late 2006. It’s also purportedly a potential buyer of the whole company.
That makes sense because the company is trying to build a new business providing management and other services to musicians, and iLike’s big emphasis lately is building a platform that musicians can use to connect with fans online.
But could Ticketmaster afford the deal, after spending $123 million in cash plus stock in October to buy artist-management group Front Line?
Ticketmaster has been downsizing and bracing for worse times in 2009, after seeing its operating income fall about 20 percent this year. During the third quarter, it began slashing costs and laying off a third of its personnel.
Would Microsoft be interested (if iLike’s system could be converted to work with Zune’s music catalog, instead of iTunes and Rhapsody)?
Both iLike and Microsoft are tight with Facebook, Partovi’s brother and iLike co-founder Hadi Partovi was formerly MSN general manager, and iLike could help Microsoft’s fledgling social-networking services and Zune music platform scale up. — iLike has something like 10 times more users than total Zune units sold to date.
RealNetworks would be easy for iLike to integrate with, but why should Real pony up when it’s already getting the benefits of iLike’s reach through a partnership they made last summer?
Cozi with numbers
Cozi, the Seattle maker of family-management software, continues to march ahead.
It announced this week that it reached a milestone — 1 million people are using its software. More will likely come from a new deal with Better Homes & Gardens, which will distribute a co-branded version of the software through its Web site.
My Monday column on potential successors to Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang drew some interesting feedback.
One person appreciated the suggestion of former Safeco boss Paula Reynolds, having seen her in action locally, and noted that she’s been helping AIG restructure since late October. Reynolds is overseeing its divestiture of assets.
I guess that’s even more preparation for the Yahoo job.
Another reader, former Pixar employee Michael Murdock, wrote from Arizona to nominate himself.
“To hell with anyone else in the mix. Call Steve Ballmer and tell him that I’ll sit down with him and talk a deal out as soon as I am in there as CEO of Yahoo. In fact, the very day they let me in we can talk,” Murdock wrote.
“But not for acquisition. And he has to invest in Yahoo to help bolster it back into play … it’s not much to ask for and it preserves the marketplace and keeps the DOJ off of everyone’s back.”
This material has been edited for print publication.
Brier Dudley’s blog appears Thursdays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or email@example.com.