Disney is buying Maker Studios. Who wants to buy Fullscreen?
We don’t know yet. But in the wake of the Disney/Maker deal, industry sources say that lots of would-be investors and acquirers are circling Fullscreen, a video startup that sort of looks like Maker: It’s a few years old and it has billions of video views on YouTube.
People familiar with the company, run by former YouTuber George Strompolos, insist that it’s not looking to sell. But that’s what you say before you sell. In any case, sources say Fullscreen has now hired Allen & Co. to help it sort out various offers.
It’s not the first time that Fullscreen has worked with the investment bank, and it’s not the first time it has dealt with big media companies. Last year, Comcast’s venture arm* and The Chernin Group led a $30 million round in Fullscreen, in a deal that valued it at around $110 million.
At the time, Fullscreen described itself as a company that sold software and services to other companies trying to make money in Web video. But it also operated its own YouTube-based video network, which it says currently generates more than 3.5 billion views a month.
Now, the logic goes (at least among a certain kind of investor/big media company): If Disney thought it was a good idea to buy Maker, which has five billion views a month, then Fullscreen, which is the next biggest network out there, must be really valuable, too.
Dunno. Disney’s deal still has lots of industry people — including some who work at Disney — scratching their heads. They understand why Disney would want to get involved in Web video, and particularly in YouTube, since Disney’s core audience lives there.
But some people are still baffled by a $500 million bet on a money-losing company, especially since YouTube seems like it’s going to remain a very difficult place for video owners to make money.
Meanwhile, who’s that guy getting licked by a dog, in the screen grab featured at the top of this post? He’s one of the YouTubers highlighted in a Fullscreen sizzle reel, but I’m out of the demo. First person who can correctly identify him gets a free subscription to John Paczkowski’s Code/red.
* Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which is a minority investor in Revere Digital, which owns Re/code.