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Tech whiz cashes in as Yahoo swoops

AFP/ AFR | July 3, 2013
It's the kind of birthday present start-up founders can only dream of: your company being acquired for a reported US$50 million ($54 million) by Yahoo.

Doug Imbruce, founder and CEO of Qwiki.
Doug Imbruce, founder and CEO of Qwiki. Photo: Twitter/Doug Imbruce

It's the kind of birthday present start-up founders can only dream of: your company being acquired for a reported US$50 million ($54 million) by Yahoo. For Doug Imbruce, the 32-year-old co-founder and CEO behind smartphone movie application Qwiki, that dream has become a reality.

Yahoo announced on Tuesday that it had bought his start-up, extending a shopping spree launched after Marissa Mayer became chief of the internet pioneer a year ago.

Yahoo did not reveal how much it paid for Qwiki, the New York operation behind an application that converts video and pictures on iPhones into sharable movie clips complete with music soundtracks, although tech news website All Things D said sources told it that the company was acquired for about $US50 million ($54 million).

In announcing the deal, Doug Imbruce wrote on Twitter: "So excited to share news that @Qwiki will be part of the @Yahoo renaissance - a happy ending and new beginning."

The deal was announced on Mr Imbruce's birthday.

"Thank you for being a part of our story - one which is far from over," Mr Imbruce said in a separate statement on the Qwiki website.

Qwiki's day-to-day operations are led by Mr Imbruce, but its other co-founder is Louis Monier, the founder of the AltaVista search engine website, who left the company in 2011.

The two started Qwiki as a multimedia search engine offering on January 24, 2011, when they launched an iPad app that created video summaries of search terms after winning the TechCrunch Disrupt Award in 2010.

The start-up has since evolved into a video-sharing app.

Before being acquired by Yahoo, Qwiki raised about $US10.5 million from investors, $US1 million of which was invested by Groupon and Lightbank co-founders Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky. Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin also heavily invested in the start-up, leading a $US8 million Series A financing.

"Have you ever listened to an old song and all of a sudden a favourite vacation, concert, or summer memory pops into your mind?" Yahoo asked rhetorically in a blog post announcing the acquisition.

"The Qwiki app automatically turns pictures and videos that you already have on your iPhone into quick, beautiful movies to share, including transitions and a soundtrack."

Yahoo promised to continue to support the Qwiki app after the start-up's team becomes part of its office in New York City.

The Qwiki buy announcement came a day after Yahoo put out word that it bought Bignoggins Productions, a one-person operation specialising in fantasy sports applications for iPhones.

 

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