Insightful analysis and commentary for the US and global equity investor
Contributors: Douglas McIntyre Jon C. Ogg

Previous Posts

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Who Will Buy PhotoBucket: It's Not For Sale

Stocks: (EK)(NWS)(TWX)(GOOG)(YHOO)

PhotoBucket, the huge online photo sharing site, is not for sale. But, of course, its CEO decided to have a press interview to make that clear.

In September, PhotoBucket was the 41st most visited site in the US. It had 14.7 million unique visitors, putting it ahead of sites like Overstock and Craigslist. The company is independent and backed by venture capitalists who are probably hungry for the kind of quick return that MySpace and YouTube VCs got.

By talking to the press and signalling that PhotoBucket could be had for the right price, the company is probably starting a bidding war. With photo-sharing and online photo development as two key community and commercial functions on the web, there are several potential suitors.

One would have to be Kodak, which needs one "Hail Mary" pass to get itself back into the game. Its digital businesses have not been able to replace the drop in its photo paper unit, and the company is viewed by many on Wall St. as a failure. The company's EasyShare online store is already a presence in the photo-sharing world, but does not have anywhere near PhotoBucket's reach. With a market cap of $6.5 billion, Kodak would have to offer a lot of the company to be a bidder.

Yahoo!, which is already in the online photo business with Flickr, would use the reach that PhotoBucket offers. It also might signal that Yahoo! management will not simply keep its head in the sand while Google, News Corp, and other companies work the M&A circuit to try to get ahead.

The other logical buyer is AOL. Richard Parsons, the chief of AOL parent Time Warner, has said that he will not overpay for online properties, but the audience at AOL websites is still largely flat and lagging behind the growth of rivals. PhotoBucket might help transform that.

Head over to Las Vegas. The odds are 8-to-1 in favor of PhotoBucket being bought this year.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.

Powered by Blogger