MySpace will acquire iLike

Music application has more than 50 mil users

NEW YORK -- News Corp.'s MySpace unveiled its first acquisition under CEO Owen Van Natta on Wednesday, saying it will buy iLike, the firm behind the top music application across social networks, including competitor Facebook. Van Natta announced the deal in a conference call with reporters, saying he wants to take the iLike approach to areas beyond music.

He particularly mentioned entertainment, video and games as key focus areas for MySpace, in which iLike could develop future applications. Asked by The Hollywood Reporter about possible film apps, Van Natta said: "Film is an important part of MySpace...It is one of the areas that's a potential."

Blog reports in recent days have buzzed about a potential deal for iLike. While the companies didn't disclose the purchase price Wednesday, reports have put it at anywhere between $13.5 million and $20 million.

"The iLike acquisition advances our relentless pursuit of innovation and the need to create new distributed social experiences in music and beyond," Van Natta said. "We are deeply committed to bringing world class talent into all areas of the company and this acquisition demonstrates our focus on this objective."

Asked about News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch's recent declaration that the media conglomerate wants to increasingly charge for digital content across its brands, Van Natta said he expects MySpace to remain "primarily" ad-supported for now, but didn't rule out the addition of paid-for offers.

iLike says it has more than 50 million registered users. It hosts band pages, tracks the musical tastes of its members and recommends music. Besides MySpace and Facebook, it is available on the likes of Bebo, Ask.com, iTunes and Ticketmaster.

CEO Ali Partovi also was a co-founder of LinkExchange, which was acquired by Microsoft for $265 million in 1998. Among big music names involved with the company are "Talking Heads" guitarist and keyboardist Jerry Harrison who serves as a director, and advisory board member George Martin who signed and produced the Beatles. Also on its advisory board: former AOL executive Bob Pittman.
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