Disney to acquire Maker Studios? IPO watch & LAUNCH of the Week | This Week in Startups

Disney is in talks to acquire Maker Studios for $500m, according to Recode’s Peter Kafka. The entertainment giant’s recent acquisitions focused on IP: Marvel, Lucasfilm. Maker represents YouTube stars like PewDiePie and iJustine, which could dovetail nicely with Disney’s youth-focused TV programming. For Maker and its investors, the time is ripe for sale, with so much traffic reliant on YouTube and little distribution of its own outside of Google.

It’s going to be a big year for tech IPOs. Add to the list of companies expected to start public trading: Eventbrite, King Games (maker of Candy Crush), and China’s multibillion internet giant Alibaba, which could raise $15B. That will also be a big boon to Yahoo which has ~20% stake.

Bing LAUNCH of the Week: Imitone software turns your humming into electronic music, a Boston hospital built a Google Glass app to read patient data through QR codes, and Omaze wants to raise money by raffling off experiences with celebrities. This week: enter to win time with Arnold Schwarzenegger, crushing stuff in his tank.


Plus, are diversity problems specific to journalism and tech? And how valuable is the SXSW conference for techies?

Sarah Lacy of Pando Daily and Rafe Needleman of Yahoo Tech sat down with me for the This Week in Startups news roundtable.

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5:06 – Disney might acquire Maker Studios.
6:05 – RN: It shows how media is shifting. Smart move for Disney; I’m glad to see them do it. It’s great for independent media producers as well. A new outlet. You don’t have to be a major studio to build a major following.
7:10 – JC: Am I cynical to think this might be investors leaking?
7:25 – SL: If it were someone other than Kafka, I’d say maybe, but I think it’s just really good intel. It would be a good play for LA, Mark Suster. Machinima. I always like to see companies go long but this is a rare time where I think is great
8:36 – JC: Machinima laying of 25% of staff. When it comes to video, only one ecosystem at scale. When you build inside someone else’s ecosystem, there’s a conflict when that system decides that they want your business.
9:15 – SL: but what does it mean for Disney? They don’t have a great track record of buying tech companies. Is this where Maker goes to die?
9:32 – JC: I bet this is a deal for Disney where they want to learn a little. iJustine, etc. feels a lot like the Disney Channel, but if they learned how to create the next new star, it would probably be worth it. They’re interesting – they don’t seem to buy tech startups and build great stuff w/ 3rd parties, based on their original IP…Star Wars, Marvel, etc.
11:00 – SL: well Sheryl Sandberg is on their board and Facebook is buying up a ton.
11:38 – Thank you @Mailchimp for supporting the show!
13:35 – IPOs galore: now Eventbrite, King Games, Alibaba.
14:42 – SL: Why would anyone buy King in an IPO? They’re candy – you fly through them and then get bored of them.
15:54 – JC: why can’t someone put together a string of hits in the way that Disney et. al can create multiple hits?
16:15 – SL: Disney was born in a different era. They’ll always have that back catalog.
17:15 – RN: I don’t know what the secret sauce is, but when you upset the applecart, bad things happen. Draw Something, Zynga. Rovio has been able to exploit their catalog of characters and ideas. It works on XBox and Playstation games but on mobile games…when it collapses….stock is almost worthless
18:32 – JC: no one has played a casual mobile gaming company. Angry Birds, etc.
XX:XX – SL: …at some point, there are laws of gravity.
19:27 – JC: Eventbrite
1938 – SL: Eventbrite is an uninspiring IPO. It’s not a company I get super excited about. We use it all the time… it’s doing well but missed the boat to what it could be.
20:34 – RN: They’re building on the planning and building space. If they can successfully [do discovery], there’s value. It’s not sexy, but there’s value.
21:35 – JC: map tickets to your seats. You can actually make reserved seats in your auditorium. We’ve used Ticketleap, but to sell specific seats is disruptive.
22:22 – JC: Alibaba
24:00 – RN: I love Alibaba. Considering that I work here, that’s all I can say.
24:19 – JC: It must make everyone at Yahoo! feel a sense of security.
24:35 – SL: I did a show for Yahoo! Finance a few years ago, and I have to say, if you have worked in traditional journalism, it is a plush, great job.
25:05 – RN: I will say that I have never worked as many hours in my life.
25:20 – Thank you @ScottEdWalker for supporting entrepreneurs and the show!
XX: XX – Launch of the Week
XX:XX – Glass app for Boston doctors
28:22 – Imitone – turn your humming into song
29:00 – Omaze.
30:35 – JC: favorites?
31:02 – RN: As a business, the one that touches money is probably best. However, the latter two don’t excite me at all. The glass app may help save lives and help doctors do good work. Socially acceptable context. This is where this tech lives. I love that and if it could make doctors better, that’s the one I like.
31:50 – JC: Glass sucks for consumers but good for enterprise?
32:00 – RN: SXSW panels about how not to be a Glasshole. I want to punch people in the face when I talk to them trying to talk me.
32:25 – JC: Woman at bar. Everyone I know doesn’t want you talk to talk to them with it.
33:00 – RN: If I’m nearly dead, that’s what I want.
33:15 – SL: How does it make it any better? I think doctors aren’t going to do it.
33:35 – JC: I could see if you’re doing surgery, if you could see the metrics, that would be useful.
34:55 – JC: I told you that people were going to be punched in the face for wearing glass. I told a glass exec that he was killing the vibe on the dance floor.
36:05 – JC favorites?
36:40 – SL: I’m going to say Imitone. It’s not super exciting but I think the doctor thing is ridiculous – a gimmick no one will adopt. Omaze is interesting but any business that is predicated on celebrities is hard to sustain.
37:35 – JC: The glass app, as presented, is meaningless. Pick up the damn chart. An iPad would probably be better. I see the potential, but not in current application. I think Imitone could inspire people to pick up an instrument, but I hate music startups, they don’t go anywhere. But Omaze – there’s something there with crowdfunding and people love raffles. There you have it, first split decision.
39:08 – JC: Whistleblowers at SXSW. Everyone knows I hate panels: nothing occurs on them. I’m never going again. Boondoggle. They did have 3 pretty good keynotes: Lady Gaga, Snowden, Assange. The sad thing: auto accident.
40:55 – RN: The car event was a terrible tragedy. As far as overall, I was there 4 days, but I didn’t go to a single panel. Great event for Yahoo! The people who are there to meet other people and to party and learn, it’s a great event. If you can afford it, I love going.
42:19 – JC: SXSW so huge and spilling into streets, any connection to be made to the tragedy?
42:30 – SL: No, no connection. This is the first highly violent thing we’ve seen at SXSW. This is a bunch of drunk people. I’m glad that we haven’t seen this earlier. I hate the conference. This event has nothing to do w/ why it’s awful… it’s a good conference for people under the director level, and for people who want to be entrepreneurs. Mid-level people in the career to go make contacts. I would never go, it’s awful.
43:55 – RN: People could say that if you want to stay up with what’s happening there, go to SXSW.
45:45 – SL: I’ve seen more cool and up and coming stuff at Jason’s conference than I’ve ever heard at SxSW. Talking about privacy, etc., good for them. I don’t hear about any good companies. Up and comers are working their asses off, building shit. Not paying $600 / night. There’s huge business done at CES.
46:45 – JC: I go to CES for 48 hours, to go to one dinner.
47:20 – RL: You guys are elitist.
47:36 – JC: Guardian decries lack of diversity in journalism startups.
48:40 – SL: Diversity problem in any industry. This is reality, let’s stop being shocked by it. The point is that she’s complaining about it, but ignoring some of the bigger one. People expect better of Emily Bell. Not well thought-out.
50:40 – RN: Without running the numbers, I don’t think diversity has changed much, but not substantially greater number than when I started.
51:40 – JC: Do female founders hire more females?
51:54 – SL: Talent is talent. I don’t put extra care into hiring, but I do spend extra time mentoring. I wish we had more racial diversity. The biggest problem for us is that we’re all white.
52:37 – SL: [biggest hurdle] – if you get a scoop and someone doesn’t, people say “you got it because you’re a girl.” I think it’s hard if you’re a single girl. How do you date as a tech journalist in SF?
53:35 – JC: People disclose who they’re married to. What’s the best practice for dating?
53:50 – SL: yeah, where’s the line on this? Recusing yourself out of fashion. Making sure you’re not getting used, etc. It’s a harder world. I think it’s harder for women. Because it’s what your haters will say about you.
55:10 – JC: There’s a violence against women that’s not expressed toward men.
55:20 – SL: People are more likely to assume a woman is stupid and doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
56:00 – JC: Any rule about dating and reporting?
46:19 – Rafe close: Follow @rafe. http://Yahoo.com/tech! David Pogue’s reviews here. Send your mom to Yahoo.com/tech
58:22 – JC: Follow @sarahcuda. Feisty.
59:00 – JC: Be thoughtful. Don’t be cavalier with certain words.

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