Returning from the brink of death, music services Winamp and Shoutcast are now officially with a new owner: Digital audio business Radionomy has acquired the both media player and radio platform from AOL. We understand from a reliable source that it is a cash and share deal, worth between $5 million and $10 million, with AOL taking a 12% stake of Radionomy in the process.
Recall that AOL paid some $80 million for Nullsoft, owner of Winamp and Shoutcast, in 1999.
AOL’s stake will be a financial, not a strategic, investment, I’ve been told.
We had been hearing different reports of a deal in progress or a while now — resulting in a stay of execution for both Winamp and Shoutcast after AOL originally intended to shut them both down by December 20, 2013.
While one of our early reports noted that Microsoft was in the mix, that turned out not to be the case, but here’s an interesting twist: CEO/Radionomy founder Alexandre Saboundjian’s previous company, a telematics firm called Magic Phone, is now a part of Microsoft.
(He sold the company to Tellme, which Microsoft subsequently acquired.)
As implied by a recent discovery of a domain name transfer to Radionomy’s servers, both Winamp and Shoutcast will continue as going concerns.
If AOL — which has been cutting and selling other music holdings in favor of pressing on with other kinds of online content (it owns TechCrunch among other properties) – increasingly seemed like a bad fit for the two services, then its new parent couldn’t be more different.
Adding Shoutcast to Radionomy’s existing assets will make the company one of the biggest players in the radio streaming business, hosting some 60,000 radio stations, or roughly half the online radio stations on the market today.
Meanwhile, Radionomy intends to offer Winamp’s media player just as it is today — with access to those 60,000 stations, but also playback ability for 60 audio and video formats; 6,000 add-ons like skins and plug-ins; and availability in 16 languages.
In both cases, this will be a volume play for Radionomy. Among its other assets is the TargetSpot audio ad network, and the plan will be to use both Shoutcast and Winamp to increase TargetSpot’s inventory, and as everyone knows advertising is a game of scale.
The intention is to continue to develop both products, Saboundjian tells me.
“We want to rebuild the story for Winamp,” he says. “We think the future can be great because the strategy is not just desktop but mobile and cars and so much more.”
He says it was “really interesting” to see how many people are still using a product that has virtually been left to seed by AOL. Every month there are still some 3 million downloads of the software. “Yes, perhaps there has been no special innovation in the last two years, but it is still a very strong community and still appreciated by those users,” he says.
Brusssels- and New York-based Saboundjian says that the acquisition is just of the products and technology. There had been “very small” teams working on both at AOL, but only on a contract basis.
Radionomy has raised some 7 million euros to date and is planning on going for a new round in the month ahead to continue expanding its business.