Disney (NYSE: DIS), which has a specific mandate of making some smaller acquisitions in the online space, has been looking at everything these days, and is in the process of buying at least two companies that we know of. The first one is Fanlib, a community site dedicated to showcasing fan fiction. The Los Angeles-based site launched about a year ago, and had raised about $3 million from H.I.G. Ventures in 2006. Fan fiction is "a broadly-defined term for fiction about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creators. Fan fiction usually describes works which are [generally] uncommissioned by the owner of the work, and usually (but not always) works which are not professionally published." An example: the Harry Potter series has spawned a lively fan fiction genre, in which the characters make choices and enjoy an afterlife that Rowling herself did not create, as Wikipedia describes it.
It has been a controversial over the years because of copyright issues, as it is a derivative work, and therefore, a gray area with copyright violation. Fanfiction.net is the largest site in market, though more user-gen than a business...Fanlib is an effort at commercializing and developing organized communities around fans, with the primary focus being TV shows, in addition to books. It has deals with HarperCollins, Penguin Books, Showtime Networks, Simon & Schuster, and Starz Entertainment....it has done promos for Showtime's "The L Word" and "Dexter."
It will be an interesting exercise from Disney's perspective, in working with various other media companies in developing the site and its services. it could be that Disney focuses on it internally, working on various Disney shows and properties across the company. Disney and Fanlib did not reply to request for comment.
Meanwhile, a smaller acquisition that is still in the works, and not yet completed, is DigiSynd, an as-yet-stealth online video startup founded by Revver cofounder Oliver Luckett. Techcrunch reported on it first. We do understand the deal is still in lawyering stages, and has not been finalized. Not much is known about the company's product, but it is apparently a service for professional content creator to distribute and monetize their content. Big disclaimer: Greycroft Partner, who is our investor, is also a seed investor in Digisynd, and refused any comment on the deal.
By Rafat Ali