from the hot-potato dept
In its Thursday earnings call, CNET announced that it sold photo-sharing site Webshots to American Greetings for $45 million in cash. This is yet another chapter in the crazy history of Webshots. Launched in 1996, the founders sold their company to Excite for $84 million in 1999. After the whole dotcom deflation, the founders bought their own company back for $2.4 million in 2002. Then, two years later in 2004, it sold Webshots to CNET for a cool $70 million. So, this week’s acquisition marks the fourth time that this property has changed hands.
When CNET purchased Webshots in 2004, it was quietly one of the most trafficked photo-sharing sites on the web. However, momentum and buzz was all around media-darling Flickr and uber-popular MySpace tools like Photobucket, which, according to Alexa, both gained on and then passed Webshots in traffic. Webshots tried to turn the tide by jumping on the video bandwagon, adding social networking features, and launching a photobucket-like blind hosting service, but to not much avail. True, Comscore reports that Webshots is growing again this year while Alexa reports no such growth, but at least the two measures agree on the fact that Webshots growth and audience both pale in comparison with its competitors.
The bigger question remains though — what is the new owner of Webshots, American Greetings, going to do with the site? American Greetings has made a few web acquisitions in the past, and now owns eGreetings and former #1 traffic king, Blue Mountain Greetings. However, both of those sites are greetings sites, which made perfect sense for them. If this isn’t the right place for Webshots, will we yet see another sale for Webshots next year?