it’s official: google buys youtube

October 9, 2006

As has been reported here and elsewhere, rumors have been flying about suggesting that web services company Google would acquire video-sharing site YouTube for $1.6bn or thereabouts. Confirmation arrived today that the buyout will indeed be taking place, the price being $1.65bn in Google stock (currently $429/share, up $8.50). Google outmaneuvered the likes of Microsoft, Yahoo!, and media conglomerates Viacom and The News Corporation (the new owner of social networking site MySpace) for the privilege.

An official press release from Google regarding the deal is available here. It reveals that YouTube will remain a separate brand, at least for now, rather than being folded into the Google Video project. YouTube CEO Chad Hurley had this to say today:

“Our community has played a vital role in changing the way that people consume media, creating a new clip culture. By joining forces with Google, we can benefit from its global reach and technology leadership to deliver a more comprehensive entertainment experience for our users and to create new opportunities for our partners. I’m confident that with this partnership we’ll have the flexibility and resources needed to pursue our goal of building the next-generation platform for serving media worldwide.”

Also notable are three agreements signed today between YouTube and content companies CBS, Sony BMG, and Universal Music Group (press releases here, here, and here) to provide their content to YouTube. They should at least begin to legitimize the site, which has become a repository for all sorts of troublesome material–copyrighted works used without permission of their authors, mostly. The solution to the overall problem is less clear, though; ideally, Google will pay some small fee to these companies to license the copyrighted works for each instance, but the bother involved in tabulating that may make it untenable.

So, Google buys YouTube. What do we, the users, care about it? Not much, really. The money will work differently, Google Video will disappear (will anyone miss it, really?), and YouTube’s technology can only get better with the expertise of those brainy Google engineers, but everything should stay largely as it is. At least until it changes.

–D. S. W.


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