MySpace/News Corp buys Photobucket…

…which probably accounts for the giant gulping sound you heard earlier. Rupert Murdoch is downright voracious.

Here’s an interesting take on the acquisition from Owen Thomas at Business 2.0:

There’s been much written about MySpace and Photobucket’s mutual reliance; MySpace has the users, while Photobucket has those users’ photos, which display on MySpace using what’s known in the Valley as “widgets.”But I don’t think this deal has anything to do with the so-called “widget economy.” Here’s what it’s really about.

Engineers. Good Web engineers are scarce, especially in L.A., where MySpace has been foolishly and fruitlessly trying to assemble a tech team. The site’s technology is legendarily bad, which is largely why sites like YouTube and Photobucket have ridden to prominence on MySpace’s back. Users go to other sites because the tools MySpace provides are so subpar.

Rupert & Co., I believe, are betting that Photobucket can rescue MySpace from its tech morass. With a tech team based in the highly skilled, low-cost, low-competition labor market of Denver, MySpace at last can start making more of its huge user base. That, rather than a bunch of party snaps, is worth paying $300 million for.

The question of the moment – to me, at least – is whither non-MySpace users of Photobucket in the months to come? If Photobucket becomes essentially a bit of MySpace functionality, how long will NewsCorp (aka Rupert Unlimited) feel like providing free image storage for people outside of the social networking site (including people who use competitors like Facebook)?

I don’t mean to yell “theater” in a crowded fire. Just wondering.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “MySpace/News Corp buys Photobucket…

  1. Gah. This isn’t encouraging news.

  2. Melissa McEwan

    If Photobucket becomes essentially a bit of MySpace functionality, how long will NewsCorp (aka Rupert Unlimited) feel like providing free image storage for people outside of the social networking site (including people who use competitors like Facebook)?

    FWIW, people who are heavy-users at Photobucket already have to pay a subscription fee for the service. Like me, for instance.

    So, I don’t know how much of a concern it really is. I imagine those of us who are paying subscriptions will continue to carry a lot of small users, like you get on some blog platforms with gradations of use, too.

  3. Seriously, who cares whether Rupert makes it MySpace only or not? Photobucket is even remotely the only free photo sharing site on the Internet.

    Flickr 4tw!

  4. Lee Ann

    I started out with a free account at Photobucket back when it was essentially the only game in town. I now have a paid account at Flickr because I like the functionality at that site better, but I still have a slew of photos stored at Pb – which I shall be downloading and deleting now. Thanks for the heads up.

  5. I don’t mean to yell “theater” in a crowded fire

    LOL.

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