After announcing the formation of Fox Interactive Media (FIM), Rupert Murdoch spent $580m to acquire Intermix, the owner of MySpace, the insanely popular (28m unique users) community site. He bid around $94m for a leading Australian real estate site, although the company recently rejected the bid. He acquired Scout Media. There were rumors that FIM was also interested in acquiring Skype for $3b. Then the search engine rumors emerged (a search engine can be the glue that holds together all the properties) with Blinkx as the likely target . In the end, Murdoch’s News Corp is expected to spend up to $2b on internet acquisitions. Oh, it’s also important to note that the company has long had it’s eyes on Asia (it’s the largest Western TV company in China and has media interests throughout the area). The company recently experienced a setback in setting up a primetime TV channel in China.
Ok, so let’s put the pieces together: News Corp thinks community, content, search, and China are important…well what about commerce?
I think a shopping comparison engine could be a great play for Murdoch and FIM. It wouldn’t be THE acquisition, but it would fit in well with the other pieces of the puzzle.
I’ve always been a believer that content, commerce, and community go hand in hand (in hand). News Corp’s FIM division definitely has content in the form of fox.com, foxnews.com, foxsports.com, newly acquired Scout Media, etc. and community in form of MySpace. However, after spending hours playing around with MySpace and other FIM sites, I found lots of PPC ads and various sponsorships, but no significant commerce component.
With the recent consolidation in the market (eBay acquired Shopping.com and EW Scripps acquired Shopzilla), there are only a couple independent shopping comparison engines left. PriceGrabber and NexTag are the established players which many people thought might be in play after the Shopping.com and Shopzilla acquisitions. However, newcomers Become.com and Smarter.com might also be attractive candidates.
Become.com is a new search engine that incorporates a research service with a comparison shopping engine. The company recently raised a second round of financing led by Transcosmos Ventures, a Japanese firm, which probably signals Become.com’s plans to enter the Asian market at some point. Smarter.com is a new shopping comparison engine led by two former Overture executives. The company will likely be the first US shopping comparison engine to offer services in China and Japan.
It’s all speculation…no comments from any of the companies mentioned above…but it’s something to think about.