CBS networks with Last.fm for $280 mil

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NEW YORK -- CBS Corp. said Wednesday that it has agreed to purchase music-focused social network Last.fm for $280 million in cash.

The deal follows CBS' purchase last week of finance-video site Wallstrip.com, its investment in online television service Joost and the continuing expansion of the CBS Interactive Audience Network, an Internet video service set to launch in the summer.

The network's latest acquisition, the U.K.-based Last.fm, has more than 15 million predominantly young users in more than 200 countries. Founded in 2002, it creates communities around musical taste and provides recommendations and custom radio streams for its users through its own technology, called "scrobbling."

"Last.fm is one of the most well-established, fastest-growing online community networks out there," CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves said. "Their demographics also play perfectly to CBS' goal to attract younger viewers and listeners across our businesses."

The site's management team -- Felix Miller, Martin Stiksel and Richard Jones -- will continue to independently run the network. They will work with CBS Corp. to apply their technology to the network's online and mobile space.

Said Quincy Smith, president of the network's interactive division, "We looked at a lot of companies to provide a base for CBS' investment in online reach and found Last.fm to be poised at an inflection point -- balancing fast growth, a sticky community and the opportunity for monetization that does not distract the user."

Last.fm in February signed a deal with Warner Music Group Corp. to make the label's catalog available on the service and in December the site partnered with EMI Records on a music recommendation initiative.
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