vigglewetpaintWetpaint, an 8-year-old Seattle startup led by entrepreneur Ben Elowitz, has been sold to New York-based Viggle for a purchase price of $30 million.

Founded initially as a provider and network of wikis, Wetpaint pivoted over the years to create a destination for entertainment and celebrity news, attracting more than 12 million unique visitors per month and more than 500,000 Facebook followers. The company had raised $40 million from Trinity Ventures, Frazier Technology Ventures, Accel Partners, and DAG Ventures over the years.

Ben Elowitz
Ben Elowitz

“Wetpaint is the place to indulge your TV obsessions 24/7, from breaking news to red-hot spoilers, hilarious recaps and in-depth coverage of the Housewives’ catfights. Vigglers, get ready to know your favorite shows on a whole new level,” Viggle wrote in a blog post Monday. In a news release, the company said that it is working with Wetpaint editors to create polls and quizzes related to TV shows.

Viggle is publicly-traded, and last year attempted to purchase GetGlue for $70 million, though that deal fell apart after funding did not materialize. (Post has been updated with correct information on the failed acquisition).

We’ve reached out to Elowitz for comment, and will update this post as we hear more. (More details on the transaction in this SEC filing).

UPDATE: Here’s more from Elowitz, who noted that the entire 47-person team at Wetpaint is sticking together.

“I’m super excited about the acquisition.  It’s great for our team – we’ve been wanting to grow and Viggle’s going to be a great partner to do that with: They have a lock on consumer loyalty and engagement; and we do content incredibly well.  So we can infuse consumer experiences with great content before, during, and after airtime of everyone’s favorite shows.  And that’s a starting point for us to grow into other categories down the line.  In terms of the trajectory of the company, we’ve grown our audience enormously since we moved into entertainment and media – but we last raised money in 2008.  5 years ago!  So the best way to grow the business felt like it was going to be to link up with a partner that can accelerate things, rather than stay independent and raise more money.”

Here’s the full press release:

Viggle (OTCQB: VGGL), the free mobile app that rewards entertainment loyalists for watching TV and listening to music, announced today that it has acquired Wetpaint, a leading entertainment media and technology company focused on television fans, for approximately $30 million in cash and stock.

Wetpaint has become a leading destination for TV viewers, and provides original content to over 12 million monthly unique users. Wetpaint provides a way for fans to stay connected with the stars and programs they love 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In addition to its 12 million monthly unique users, Wetpaint boasts more than 90 million page views a month and a combined social reach of more than 7 million Facebook likes and followers on Twitter. It is a major source for deep, independent coverage of top TV shows, stars, entertainment news and fashion, producing premium content – more than 150 new articles, videos and galleries per day.

While Wetpaint will continue to offer its unique insight and access to its loyal fans, the two companies will begin to share content and benefits immediately. In the coming months Wetpaint users will gain access to Viggle’s rewards program, and Vigglers will see more and more unique and exclusive content focused on TV, TV stars, and fans of TV.

“Wetpaint is the perfect complement to our business for users, TV network partners and advertisers,” said Greg Consiglio, President and COO of Viggle. “This combined company brings together Viggle’s proven promotion, entertainment rewards and monetization capabilities with Wetpaint’s reach, social distribution technologies and best-in-class content. Wetpaint leverages the power of social media to ensure TV fans are getting the latest news and commentary about the shows they love, and enables us to expand our offering to before, during and after the show airs.”

Ben Elowitz, CEO of Wetpaint commented, “We are thrilled to join our loyal users with Viggle’s avid fans, providing both with the continued opportunity to gain rewards by engaging in their passion – entertainment – while also giving marketers a more integrated, dynamic platform.”

For marketers, this acquisition creates significant opportunities to reach a passionate audience with targeted messages across an “always on” entertainment experience that now includes multiple touch points and platforms. Marketers already benefit from Viggle’s extensive reward program, as well as in-app advertising, and that will now be extended through Wetpaint’s online content and social media streams.

Viggle and Wetpaint provide unprecedented access to devoted TV viewers. With 316 million confirmed check-ins since launch last year, and an average of 66 minutes per session, Viggle’s more than 3.5 million registered users already provide a unique and highly targeted way for brands and networks to amplify their message or content. Viggle can reward users for checking into programming on nearly 200 networks, and dozens of brands are actively using Viggle to complement their TV ads. Wetpaint’s 90 million page views a month focused on the same content provides a way for brands and networks to access those viewers all day, every day.

Viggle and Wetpaint will share more details on the integration and the roll out of joint features, including music features, in the coming weeks.

About Viggle

Launched in January 2012, Viggle is a free entertainment rewards platform whose app rewards its members for watching their favorite TV shows or discovering new music. Viggle enhances TV with interactive games like Viggle LIVE and the first ever real-time fantasy sports game, MYGUY. Viggle members get rewarded for their TV watching and music listening with real rewards, including electronics, trips, exclusive entertainment experiences, gift cards, and more. Viggle also allows like-minded fans of their favorite shows and artists to connect through Viggle social features. Viggle’s audio verification technology recognizes shows on TV and allows members to check into live and DVR’d TV content from more than 180 of the most popular broadcast and cable channels. For more information, visit www.viggle.com or follow us on Twitter @Viggle.

About Wetpaint

Wetpaint is a company that is revolutionizing media with its expertise in social publishing. The company attracts more than 12 million monthly unique users to its Wetpaint Entertainment media property, which offers audiences their daily fix of entertainment and celebrity news. Founded by Internet pioneer Ben Elowitz, and with offices in New York and Seattle, Wetpaint is backed by Accel Partners, Trinity Ventures, Frazier Technology Ventures, and DAG Ventures.

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Comments

  • rayburt456

    $40 million in ; $30 million out. Ouch.

    • joe plumber

      it is way worse than that if you read the sec link below. but these things happen. nature of the beast. geekwire posts about failed companies always get more comments than the positive posts. sad commentary on the startup scene.

  • Fact Check

    Viggle didn’t acquire GetGlue…

    http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/05/i-tv-getglue/

    “Last year, GetGlue had agree to be acquired by social TV competitor Viggle, a company buoyed by billionaire investor and chairman Robert Sillerman. But that deal hinged on Viggle being able to secure additional funding from outside investors, and when that funding failed to materialize, the deal was called off.”

    • johnhcook

      That was my mistake. I made the change in the post above. Thanks for letting me know.

  • Guest

    The acq is noted as $30M but according to Yahoo! Finance, VGGL is only worth $51.75M in toto. Furthermore I’m noticing a lot of querulity in their l-t graph: the stock was worth only $0.40 on 2011-01-31 but zooned all the way up to $57.00 a week later — that’s an annualized rate of increase of 741,000%! Furthermore, the stock has fallen more than 98% since that high without any news.

    John, what’s the ‘fo on this deal? I’m a bit ‘fused, if you get.

  • Guest

    “…for approximately $30 million in cash and stock.”

    Acquisitions terms (item 1.01) and line of credit.

    http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/725876/000135448813006858/vggl_8k.htm

  • http://www.nickwhite.me/ Nick White

    Viggle is a weird company. Their financial statements on Google Finance show that the spend WAY more money than they take in, have no cash, and have been operating for a couple of years. How does that work?

  • Cynic

    The SEC doc shows $1m in cash and the rest in stock and earn-out.

    That’s super disappointing after 8+ years. It’s another black eye for Trinity, right on the heel of Discovery Bay Games closing their doors after burning $10m+.

    No wonder Seattle is down to a handful of VC funds!

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