I first saw this posted on the Pho List. A media related list that I have participated in for years with lots of smart people with great insights. THe posting, as you will read is fascinating and was originally posted anonymously. I emailed the list asking for permission to post it on my blog. In response, the “anonymous author”, who I respect and trust.
I cant say this has been fact checked. It hasnt. I cant say its 100 pct accurate, I dont know. But it rings true, and as I said, I trust the source
> I’m an experienced veteran in the digital media business and thought
> I’d share my version of events that happened at Youtube. Some of this
> is based on talks with people involved and some is speculation based
> on my experience working in the industry, negotiating settlements and
> battling in court.
> In the months preceding the sale of YouTube the complaints from
> copyright owners began to mount at a ferocious pace. Small content
> owners and big were lodging official takedown notices only to see
> their works almost immediately reappear. These issues had to be
> disclosed to the suitors who were sniffing around like Google but
> Yahoo was deep in the process as well. (News Corp inquired but since
> Myspace knew they were a big source of Youtube’s traffic they quickly
> choked on the 9 digit price tag.) While the search giants had serious
> interest, the suitors kept stumbling over the potential enormous
> copyright infringement claims that were mounting.
> Youtube knew they had an issue and had offered a straight revenue
> share deal if the complainants would call off the dogs and give them
> time. The media companies quickly rejected this path for two reasons.
> First off Youtube wasn’t making any money and was fuzzy about how they
> would generate revenue in the future. But more important the media
> companies view is that there was a mountain of past infringement that
> Youtube had engaged in and built their business on and they felt they
> deserved some of this accumulated value. And who could blame them. In
> spite of the media “user generated” puff pieces it was clear to all
> involved that they generated that content by hooking up their TV tuner
> cards to their PCs.
> It didn’t take a team of Harvard trained investment bankers to come up
> with the obvious solution and that is to set aside a portion of the
> buyout offer to deal with copyright issues. It’s not uncommon in
> transactions to have holdbacks to deal with liabilities and Youtube
> knew they had a big one. So the parties (including venture capital
> firm Sequoia Capital) agreed to earmark a portion of the purchase
> price to pay for settlements and/or hire attorneys to fight claims.
> Nearly 500 million of the 1.65 billion purchase price is not being
> disbursed to shareholders but instead held in escrow.
> While this seemed good on paper Google attorneys were still
> uncomfortable with the enormous possible legal claims and speculated
> that maybe even 500 million may not be enough – remember were talking
> about hundreds of thousands of possible copyright infringements.
> Youtube attorneys emphasized the DMCA safe harbor provisions and
> pointed to the 3 full timers dedicated to dealing with takedown
> notices, but couldn’t get G comfortable. Google wasn’t worried about
> the small guys, but the big guys were a significant impediment to a
> sale. They could swing settlement numbers widely in one direction or
> another. So the decision was made to negotiate settlements with some
> of the largest music and film companies. If they could get to a good
> place with these companies they could get confidence from attorneys
> and the ever important “fairness opinion” from the bankers involved
> that this was a sane purchase.
> Armed with this kitty of money Youtube approached the media companies
> with an open checkbook to buy peace. The media companies smelled a
> transaction when Youtube radically changed their initial ‘revenue
> sharing’ offer to one laden with cash. But even they didn’t predict
> Google would pay such an exorbitant amount for Youtube so when Youtube
> started talking in multiples of tens of millions of dollars the media
> companies believed this to be fair and would lock in a nice Q3/Q4.
> [Note to self: Buy calls on media companies just prior to Q3/Q4
> earnings calls.] The major labels got wind that their counterparts
> were in heated discussions so they used a now common trick a “most
> favored nation” clause to assure that if if a comparable company
> negotiated a better deal that they would also receive that benefit.
> It’s a clever ploy to avoid anti-trust issues and gives them the
> benefit of securing the best negotiating company. They negotiated
> about 50 million for each major media company to be paid from the
> Google buyout monies.
> The media companies had their typical challenges. Specifically, how to
> get money from Youtube without being required to give any to the
> talent (musicians and actors)? If monies were received as part of a
> license to Youtube then they would contractually obligated to share a
> substantial portion of the proceeds with others. For example most
> record label contracts call for artists to get 50% of all license
> deals. It was decided the media companies would receive an equity
> position as an investor in Youtube which Google would buy from them.
> This shelters all the up front monies from any royalty demands by
> allowing them to classify it as gains from an investment position. A
> few savvy agents might complain about receiving nothing and get a
> token amount, but most will be unaware of what transpired.
> Since everyone was reaching into Google’s wallet, the big G wants to
> make sure the Youtube purchase was a wise one. Youtube’s value is
> predicated on it’s traffic and market leadership which Google needs to
> keep. If they simply agreed to remove all unauthorized content and
> saddle the user experience with ads Youtube would quickly be a
> skeleton of its prior self. Users would quickly move to competing
> sites. The media companies had 50 million reasons to want to help.
> Google needed a two pronged strategy which you see unfolding now.
> The first request was a simple one and that was an agreement to look
> the other way for the next 6 months or so while copyright infringement
> continues to flourish. This standstill is cloaked in language about
> building tools to help manage the content and track royalties, some of
> which is true but also G knows that every day they can operate in the
> shadows of copyright law is another day that Youtube can grow. It
> should be noted that Google video is a capable Youtube competitor with
> the ONE big difference being a much more sincere effort to not post
> unauthorized works – and Google fully appreciates what a difference
> that makes. So you can continue to find movie clips, tv show segments
> and just about every music video on Youtube today.
> The second request was to pile some lawsuits on competitors to slow
> them down and lock in Youtube’s position. As Google looked at it they
> bought a 6 month exclusive on widespread v
ideo copyright infringement.
> Universal obliged and sued two capable Youtube clones Bolt and
> Grouper. This has several effects. First, it puts enormous pressure on
> all the other video sites to clamp down on the laissez-faire content
> posting that is prevalent. If Google is agreeing to remove
> unauthorized content they want the rest of the industry doing the same
> thing. Secondly it shuts off the flow of venture capital investments
> into video firms. Without capital these firms can’t build the data
> centers and pay for the bandwidth required for these upside down
> There are some interesting chapters yet to unfold. One is how much of
> this will become public. Google is required by the SEC to disclose
> material financial developments at their company. Working in Google’s
> advantage is their enormous market capitalization and revenues will
> give them considerable leeway to claim that a 50 million transaction
> is not significant to their business. If the other video sites have
> the wherewithal to put up a legal fight any decent attorney will
> demand access to Youtube acquisition documents. Expect a claim of
> collusion between Google and the media companies as a defense
> Infringement lawsuits will be served on Youtube and the new proud
> parent Google in the coming months. Google will respond with two
> paths: an expensive legal fight or a quick and easy settlement with
> most choosing the latter. Are there any larger copyright holders such
> as music publishers, movie studios, or unlicensed record label EMI
> that put up a fight rather than accepting the check? We’ll have to
> watch and find out.
115 thoughts on “Some intimate details on the Google YouTube Deal”
You totaly forgot the main one here:
It knows all native YouTube video formats: HD, MP4, FLV, 3GP videos, multiple simultaneous downloads, preview video, auto start download, skip already downloaded files, clipboard monitoring, drag & drop from IE / Firefox, proxy support, etc. Program size only 39Kb!!
I use it a lot!
Comment by john -
The key thing about google and their acquisitions, is that they don’t always work out. With YouTube, they may have a ton of traffic, but monetizing that traffic is very very difficult, especially since it has since a high cost of acquiring the content.
Comment by Wise Startup Blog -
It certainly explains the flurry of lawsuits at competitors after the YouTube deal. I don\’t know the law, but there seems to be something that stinks about that.
Comment by Youtube -
YouTube had adsense on pages before Google buy them or they display them after ? I think this is the single monetization method on their pages. Adwords-YouTube-Adsense this is one of the reasons…
Comment by Gabriel -
Development google occurs promptly, I think us new even more interesting services wait.
Comment by Ten -
I am a combat veteran and just would like to say I am glad that I served OUR country so you could make a great financial windfall and now watch you spend your money on a very sad unpatriotic movie. Because of folks like me, you are allowed to do just about anything you want. I am sure just like many veterans and active duty soldiers, I am very disappointed you have chosen to use your money this way. Thanks from all of us and be glad you are in America. Oh yes, thanks for helping OUR country\’s enemies.
Comment by Nole -
I know an insider. Jay Whitlow, who works a google, suggested that it was common knowledge that there would be fierce competition in the video marketplace but they wanted to have the most popular and right now it is YouTube.
I think that any other popular ones will be takeover targets.
Comment by Sam Deisel -
ciao sono Mara
passavo per un saluto
Comment by Mara -
There\’s nothing wrong with utilitarian arguments per se – the problem is with people who make them the only kind of arguments they claim acceptable, and then proceed to substitute their personal utilities for the claimed welfare of the society.
Comment by Greg Tattoo -
This blog is quite interesting. Google is a billion dollar company, and now all news clips can be found on You Tube. You should visit my blog at http://beautyfashionfitnessandhealth.blogspot.com, and there is a link on how to make money with Google. It\’s amazing. I think that instead of sometimes complaining about these billion dollar companies, we should try and get a little piece of that wealth by being smart and taking advantage of different opportunities that present themselves. I actually like You Tube, and use it for entertainment purposes.
Comment by Ellen Webley -
Well you tube is a great video streaming portal but for google to buy this does not seems to be a pleasure for youtube.
The leaders in IT Technology http://www.compGLOBE.com is all set to hit the asia pacific market in the middle of April 2007 as per the sources.It is gonna be a huge hit there as looking their past experience and the market strategies they follow i think they are
gonna be the pioneers in their field. wow cheers for asians………………..enjoy the benefits of real advantages…………….
Comment by Paradise -
Google is turning into one of those companies that thinks they can do whatever they want because they have all the cash. It will be real intersting to see their future and see how many mistakes they make with all the cash they have.
Comment by real estate bulgaria -
If “Google going Republican” is a sad day, what do you call the day the Demagogic Party went Marxist, in lieu of simply representing the working man and woman? You know, that internal destruction of America gang, run amuck.
Let’s see – sack the military; denigrate a President who actually is working to protect ALL American citizens – even them; homo-sexualize our youth and children while giving that morass all the credibility in the world as an alternative life-style worthy of experimentation and public association; pander to every conceivable minority which bashing the white male all over the media from movies to Madison Avenue subliminal and overt idiotic depictions; infiltrate the church with vile life-style scum; kill Christmas and nativity scenes as something not even mentionable; burn the flag in mass demonstations; take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance and take the Allegiance and respect for our nations hallowed symbolism out of our schools; kill freedom of speech and honest dialogue in deference to “political correctness;” destroy and reconfiguer the family and marriage foundational building blocks of our society; sue every successful corporation in the overt “Kill Capitalism,” ACLU lawyers frontal assault; destroy personal estates and free enterprise with “progressive” taxation; make the English language our Second language; entrench MILLIONS of Marxist grade school, high school and university teachers and professors all beating an “entitlement” mentality tatoo on the heads of the gullible druggie, iPOD, sexed-up young generation – while making sure to expropriate their inculcated values as their parents rightful domain, by age eight; and last, but not least, CAPITULATE to our sworn mortal foreign enemies who actually DID ATTACK US on 9-11-2001, which really DID HAPPEN, you fools who live on the island called “In Denial.”
Look, it’s simple, these “sensuality first” swine just want to party and get their names splashed all over the media today, and worry about living and dying and coping with inconvenient REAL WORLD issues, tommorrow, which for them never comes. So many now are intoxicated, mesmerized, and manipulated on that drug called “TV,” that they mindlessly buy into the Pelosi/Clinton/Kennedy/Kerry/Gore nationally subversive party line. It is a sad time in our nation’s history when the evil, dark forces of Marxism hi-jack the Democrat Party and redefine the USA along the lines of Red Chinese totalitarian control. And we are supposed to celebrate their off-year election gains!
This nation’s myopic general populace is officially in default from too much “hanging out” down at the mall. Every two-bit kid zombie / stooge for this poison should be drafted into military service. Two years of hard work and defending America would work wonders for these spoiled babies, and maybe even turn this morally-destitute haven for subversive opportunists and their media shills into a viable country, again. Just remember, Capitalism, with its tenets based upon freedom and individual responsibility builds hallmark institutions and societies, whereas Marxism destroys like the pervasive cancer that it is, starting with invasion of the spirit.
Comment by Rob Bonter -
well google is acquiring everything on the net it seems.may be it will start buying even our blogs and get us paid.
on the topic rip or download videos from : YouTube.com, Google.com, Myspace at KeepV.com.
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Comment by kuuku -
Very interesting and sounds dangerously close to unlawful for everyone involved and on numerous dimensions.
Comment by Bob -
what’s next? Google buying Universal?
Comment by agloco -
Very interesting take on it.
First of all, to those that point out “Do no evil”, offering safe harbor to lawbreakers would fall under the category of doing evil, stopping it would not.
But, the reality of the situation is that if youtube introduces immediately the type of philosophy that google already has then it would die a certain death, only to be replaced by a thousand competitors and no clear winner and it would be completely unregulated and uncontrolled by anyone.
To google, they get the income, ad revenue and control.
To content owners, they get a better enemy, google-video is more favorable to content owners than youtube, and far more favorable than anonymous thousands of home grown sites.
To consumers,there is a single repository, easy to use, easy to find.
Looks like win-win to me.
Comment by Dwight Wilbanks -
Maybe Google is doing a little evil to make it possible to do no evil later?
Remember Googles own video site sincerely avoids infringement.
The article posits that if Google simply buys youtube and turns it into Google video, everyone will just stop using it because at the moment there are several other sites poised to take on the role if youtube suddenly stops being useful for that role.
The point being that the infringement will simply move to some other place.
So is it really impossible that Google simply needs a little time to closed down all the other places the infringement might move to before it closes it down at youtube? Not merely so that Google can preserve it’s market share, but also to flank the esacape routes for the infringement before extinguishing it at the core.
The end result (at least in someones delusional eyes) would be google would no longer be allowing infringement, and there would be no other site large enough for those users to run to.
I don’t for a second beleive that could ever work but it’s not impossible that that is the intention. That the intentions are actually noble.
In reality I’m sure people will find a way to copy whatever they want whenever they want cheaply and quickly. The international site angle is an obvious next step.
Comment by Brian K. White -
Still at a bit of a loss as to how much this will benefit Google in the end.
Comment by Aimee -
Dear Mr. Cuban,
I was recently fired from my job for giving out free drinks to our customers who were sporting Dallas Mavericks atire. My love for the Mavericks affected my better judgement. And i thought what other way to eleminate this poor judgement than by working for the greatest basketball team on the planet. If there is any kind of position open to where i can be of the Mavs assistance i would deeply appreciate it. I am a business student at University of Texas in Dallas and would like an opportunity to work for you in any shape or fashion.
P.S. I realize you get numerous people asking for jobs, but i can assure you that i am different and will do anything it takes to help the Mavs benefit.
Robert Alperin (214)597-7809
Comment by Robert Alperin -
Google is really getting into the video side of things with first the release of their own video search engine and now with the acquiring of YouTube, Google will grow even faster as a company as a whole. I am wondering what percent of people think that Googles Acquistion of YouTube Is A Positive One in this Online Pole:
Comment by Entertaining Polls -
Does this mean an online video company that approaches the issue of copyright ownership legally is worth $500 million?
It is an easier business to run – one that does not respect copyright. It also seems to pay off big time (MySpace, Napster, Grouper, YouTube, BitTorrent). Rules were meant to be broken, but in my experience it usually ends up in some sort of speeding ticket. I guess you have to know which rules to break – speed really fast.
Comment by Trevor Doerksen -
Very interesting article. However, although the editorial focused mostly on the legality behind the buyout, there are more important aspects in considering the purchase. Of course purchasing a company chockfull of impending liabilities is a risky undertaking for any firm. It is even riskier for a company with such a large market share as Google who is now on the radar of any copyright holders. But, lest we forget that google is a smart and innovative company whose long-term success is driven by unconventional undertakings. I have a feeling that lawsuits are inevitable in the short term, but google will work out deals with the copyright holders. Also, I have a feeling in 2-5 years we will see a whole different youtube. A site focused solely on embracing the web2.0’s ideals of having more secure, interactive, and user-friendly applications. I believe google will find a fix for the copyright infringement and tailor the site to the sharing of personal media specifically from the user-community it was intended to serve.
Comment by Andrew -
A very interesting story due to its subject matter and detail, and logic. It does make sense that Google could essentially assist YouTube in its media deals by providing cash. For Google, YouTube’s size is enough to warrant such an effort.
Comment by Zenophon Abraham -
I guess that google is not silly.
Comment by pjbs39 -
Why did “the big G” still go for the deal? I think they realize the signifigance (and future income potential) of the online video posting phenomenon and want to be #1 in that market. 1.65 billion seems like a ton of cash to you and I, but it’s really not all that much for the big G.
So if this article is true, they’ve just paid off the studios / media giants for now and going forward they’ll work out some sort of revenue-sharing scheme. The real dirty deed is paying them off to save their own skins while the smaller companies are torn apart. It’s a dog eat dog world, no? Maybe that should be one of Google’s 10 “truths”.
Honestly, to me this seems like it would just be too risky of a deal for the big G. All of it would come to light at some point and everyone would see it’s got anti-trust written all over it, and then the big G might start to be associated with the big MS in the average person’s eyes – and we all know what a bad rep MS has. Not to mention the lawsuits that would follow.
Either way, it’s a very interesting article and I’m very curious to see how video posting site revenue-sharing will work in the future (and how profitable it ends up being). At some point we’ll finally know whether or not 1.65 B was worth it.
Comment by Steve -
i make video collages, one got taken down, i look at what i do is art with revenue benefits. i resuscitate the dormant and forgotten, while integrating the new and unknown. when mobile media on demand comes that art that i make now and have for the past ten years, will become a de facto method for perusing content, GUI with be divided into three catagories of media, video audio and data (pics, books, static media) the collage unfolds and the user media marks their interest. this comment is indirectly relevant to this subject on this page, the service would act as a point of sale and receive a commission for it, basically a xerox machine with personality and answers to que(ries)stions.
mark cuban is in one of my collages that i haven’t posted yet but will one month and i will mention it here, its taken from his colbert report spot.
check me stuff out on zee googtube (haven’t seen anyone use that one either only less clever ones which are dumb)
this will link you to one, or just go to youtube and type in “bipple”
thanks for the article
Comment by bip -
Really interesting. There are artists that will never know how close they came to a windfall(a huge difference to what usually happens). Instead they get just wind. Not sure how I feel about it.
Comment by Web Hoster -
I read else where that these kinds of sites are coming in waves. It will be interesting to see if Google can make this purchase a success but out of everyone they seem to have the most likely chance of gettinng it right.
Comment by John -
hmmm….Very interesting indeed.
Comment by Ryan A -
I don’t know… I think it is as simple as promising to revenue share with content owners. Google brings the very successful and very established ad channel. The content owners can either spend lots of time policing and suing, or can let Google figure out how to tag user submitted content and pay the owner. Some owners, like Comedy Central, will experiment with take-down policies because they already have successful online paid distribution (i.e. iTunes). See if cracking down increases sales.
Video content owners want to avoid what happened to their audio cousins. They shut down the centralized Napster, and infringement went decentralized. By keeping YouTube around with an owner who actually has a business model, the big content owners retain enough control to continue to monetize their properties into the future. Posting low quality YouTube encoded TV episodes and music videos is a small, solvable problem. The big future problem will be video mashups, sampling, etc.
Comment by Brad Hutchings -
Interesting. Youtube had to find a buyer, and GOOG has so much cash sitting around, and generates so much cash flow right now, that they can buy it, keep it away from Yahoo or any other competitor, and figure out the details later.
Comment by wailea -
An antitrust suit cost Google 10 – 25% of its market cap? This is not a valid rationale for Robert’s assertion that much of this story is fantasy (18).
After all, Microsoft’s still standing. IBM’s still standing.
It’s been a long time since the justice Department had the gumption to truly hold companies to account for abuse of market power. The splitting up of AT&T in ’84 is probably the last time a big player didn’t get what it wanted from a regulator in a high stakes situation. Google is safe from government. It’s their reputation that may take the biggest hit here, given their alleged collusion with publishers who, if the story is true, have surely bought themselves a big fight with the artists who most people will think deserve some of the spoils. This could be a fillip for Revver, Podzinger et al.
Comment by Andrew Simms -
I’ve been trumpteting this since the Google-in-China deal went down:
“Google’s not your buddy”
and he’s not even “Better than alternatives”. it’s a *for profit company*… and cannot escape the path it is on.
Artists, in general, need to create content **collectives** — (read: mutual benefit clubs) to support the technology and infrastructure to own, distribute, and market works, but WITHOUT the need to feed the for-profit engines of outside owners.
There needs to be a recognition that the profit motive will always screw the artists in favor of the traditional owners, an that a non-profit alternative systems will never fully reward artisits for their contributions.
They need to create the balanced, middle ground.
Comment by Matson -
That was an amazing article I really dont know what else to say but Im impressed it was really well written, and I think I learned a lot. Made me think about the whole thing in a whole new light. Wow.
Comment by Crazyglues -
I wonder when are all those big copyright owners companies going to finally awake and realize that the very same thing that allowed them to win so many dollars is the very same thing that will throw them down.
The world of making the user pay for the support (CD, DVD) is over. It was good while it lasted, at least good for the companies holding the technology and the copyright, never for the user.
A change in the business model is necessary now that Internet and community sharing technology have leveled the technological gap between producers and users, you can no longer expect to cash it out. If you are a singer, earn your money singing. Dont expect that freezing your voice on some media is going to allow you to retire. Play concerts, make tours, etc. My view is that any business based on controlling and withholding information is doomed.
Comment by sergio -
can i use the article on my blog….thanx
Comment by Arbiya -
Great information. This is the best article I have read regarding the YouTube deal. I forwarded on to 2 buddies and they couldn’t believe it. Corporate America!
Comment by Chris Dowell -
This can’t be true. It would be illegal trading information if it was – and I assume that first things Cubes lawyers do every morning is read through his blog to edit things out before he hits publish.
Comment by solomonrex -
Nobody has picked up on the other piece to this tail…
“The second request was to pile some lawsuits on competitors to slow them down and lock in Youtube’s position. As Google looked at it they bought a 6 month exclusive on widespread video copyright infringement. Universal obliged and sued two capable Youtube clones Bolt and Grouper”
Previous to the YouTube purchase Sony brought Grouper – http://grouper.com/video/MediaDetails.aspx?id=1503028&ml=o%3d7%26fk%3dsony%2bbuy%2bgrouper%26fx%3d&
Universal also reserved the right to add Sony to the suit since it acquired Grouper in August for an estimated $65m. Sony and Bolt executives could not immediately comment on the suits claims.
Josh Felser, co-founder and CEO of Grouper, said: “The lawsuit is without merit and we expect to prevail. Our website is protected by federal law and were vigilant about taking down copyrighted content when were properly notified.”
Comment by Nigel Parker -
Great post. Very iinsightful, and just plain rings true.
Comment by Mister Snitch! -
I smell a rat.
YouTube built itself on the backs of folks sending in self-created vids they wanted to share (along with clips from TV shows and big name music videos.) In conjunction with the recent Google acquisition, there appear to have been a few shady back-room deals made with the RIAA labels as evidenced in the articles linked above.
NOW the RIAA are share-holders in YouTube.
The indie vid creators apparently are still not going to get paid any of the ad-revenue anytime soon. The RIAA’s own artists won’t see a cut of the bribe money either. (Suprise suprise?)
I ask: Just who the hell are the true copyright thieves?
Folks, please stay the heck away from YouTube from now on. It was fun for a while, but things have changed. The corporates have taken over. If you have anything of your own posted there, PULL IT DOWN IMMEDIATELY! (Put it on other vid sites like revver who will at least share the ad revenue with you more fairly.)
It is pure stupidity to allow YouTube to have your content when all they are going to do is turn around and pay-off the RIAA with the money they make from it.
I suspect this whole thing has been in the works for some time. YouTube has gotten so much press this past year that it is “branded” into the public conciousness. It is as ubiquitous as iTunes (if not more so.) And I don’t think it was all a coincidence. If you ask me, I’d say the whole thing was planned from the get-go.
A similar sort of thing happened with Mp3.com once upon a time not so long ago. Anyone remember? For a while, it was the “greatest” thing in the world. A place where we featured our wonderful independent music was once a very “hot item” because of OUR contributions. We thought there was hope for the world.
Then, all of a sudden, the RIAA moved in and took over.
Well, if that’s the way it’s going to be with YouTube, let’s hope YouTube suffers the same fate as Mp3.com. But THIS time, let’s make it happen on OUR terms.
BOYCOTT YouTube NOW! (They and Google have made a deal with the devil and I for one think they need to pay for it dearly!)
Comment by Mike (Shmoo) Steely -
Right now you’ve set the conventional wisdom for why Google buying Youtube is a poor business decision. But I think Youtube’s current model is flawed aside from Youtube being a breeding place for copyrighted content.
As more individuals and groups post video online, they are going to want to see metrics reports on their videos (where the hits are coming from,what are the demographics, how long the video was watched, what OS the video was viewed from, etc). Currently the only information provided by YouTube are the topline numbers. How many total views a video has. If I’m a content provider who posts all of my content on YouTube because the hosting is free, I can’t go to an advertiser and expect business because I can report Youtube’s topline total view number.
Google has to add metrics to Youtube or else webvideo content providers are going to look elsewhere to post their video content. I wrote a blog post about this on my company’s blog:
Comment by Jason Rosenberg -
With Google buying soo many companies, doesn’t it remind you of another company that was “king of the hill” (Microsoft and IBM before that) at one time?
Google is great however I can’t help but wonder… who / what is going to be the next big thing?
Comment by Michael Pedone -
ahhhh…this is an ingenious strategy, whether its true or not, the person who thought of it is certainly an evil one toooo
Comment by Haroon -
That’s a lot of interesting information. Unfortunately most of it is untrue. I’m wondering if your trusted source is as biased as you. All this negative daily talk about Youtube and Google wouldn’t have anything to do with you being a Yahoo boy, and the fact that their bringing up the rear in all phases, would it?
Comment by dennis hermes -
I may be confused (usually), or other people are (hopefully), but the $1.6B is in stock options, so The Big G ain’t actually spending nothing and the YouTubers will have restrictions on cashing in.
If I understand it properly.
Comment by Dempsey -
Ha ha ha! 6 months free copyright infringement. That is tremendous value for their (1.65 billion)dollar(s).
Looks like the beginning of the end for Yahoo.
Comment by paul -
This is fantastic reading whether it’s true or not. I can’t recall an article I’ve read (in the past decade) twice in a row. Fascinating.
I’m having trouble at what explains some of the recent YouTube suits from media houses that would have presumably been in the $50 million club.
I’m also feeling that the deal is still moronic. In effect, Google paid $1.15 billion to two stoners and Sequoia and $500 billion to various media companies that will leave them alone for a while but will ultimately demand more. When’s the last time you gave a dog a piece of food and had it leave you for the day?
There are now only about 2 websites that aren’t screwing creators. That’s the most amazing part.
Comment by Nalts -
Till now, I don’t really care when Google buys YouTube. The only thing is really to get rid of those competition as someone said above.
Comment by Keith -
Is 6 months or so really enough time for youtube to be scrubbed of copyrighted material? Perhaps, but I am betting this is more like carte blanche for at least a year. It’s an impossible problem and the courts would see a difference between ‘user submitted content’ and a well-known, valuable (apparently!) repository of copyright infringement. And who’s to stop other major lawsuits/settlements once this agreement is known? Let it burn…
Comment by Stephen -
Okay — well if this is true, then the next few moves should pan out as predicted.
But what can be done at the new YouGoogle to make it workable after the supposed 6 month grace period? Did google strike discounted advertising deals with the copyright holders, for example? If so, they’d be in a unique position to be able to unleash copyright material — though the featured talent would still miss out on a slice of the revenue.
Comment by secretGeek -
Note to self: Start enjoying non-big-media talent.
Comment by David Sterry -
Smells right indeed. If this is true, Google is both the smartest and most devious company on the planet. Shady Sergey, shady…
Comment by Chris Thomas -
You guys are all confused. Google’s mantra is “see no evil” NOT “do no evil”.
Comment by JoeD -
This shows how truly brilliant google is. While others toil over copyright problems, they go on the offensive and concrete their business model. Shows why they are number 1 in most areas of computing =]. Notice how smart google is, learn from them, maybe then you wont have to read someone elses blog to notice what everyone else in the industry realized weeks ago. Why would google buy a company built on copyright infringement if they didnt have a smarter plan for it. Everyone who has money in it knew the exact reason, and most others figured it out. Look at myspace, bought for a near half bil, with ten times the market as youtube, use your head, make a logical reference to what is really happening. This is business, not charity. Myspace users will continue to post youtube videos because myspace will be one of the companies brought for copyright infringement, oh no, did I release another secret? Google found a way to make millions on myspace and others backs, brilliant. … open your eyes.
Comment by sitexec -
Conspiracy Theory… I enjoy a good story, but this one is not even good. Come on folks, Google went evil a long time ago, and this kind of thing is common place in corporate America. Why are you shocked, or even surprised?
Comment by Scott -
I think Google went in over their head by putting a billion dollar price tag on YouTube. Is YouTube really worth that much? Think Google. Think.
Comment by Juicy Gossip With Nosynews.net -
Interesting take on the GY tranx
Still doesn’t say why G bought
$1.6B hole in the story
Comment by Ted McElvoy -
I don’t know how YouTube can claim they haven’t seen copyrighted material when they feature videos with copyrighted material (film clips, etc.) off and on. Their philosophy bothers me.
Thanks for the Post link, Steve. Useful thoughts.
Comment by JM -
Google’s been showing small signs of “evilness” for some time now and this is just another indication that they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make a pile of cash in the long run. The only difference between them and Enron is that I believe Google is looking far down the road to the point where they’ll own some very substantial properties and they’re willing to take some very big risks along the way.
“Don’t be evil” is just a smoke screen.
Comment by Michael -
Mark why wouldn’t Google just choose not to index the 1000s of websites owned by these studio behemoths? Google could cripple these websites by not indexing them and serving them in the search results. I would think that this was a card they can will offer to play.
Comment by Jaan Kanellis -
I think they are very lucky guys, but google put themselves at great risc. They however have enough lawyers and money to win any law-fights if needed.
Comment by Mark -
I’m rather disappointed that Cuban let this anonymous source post these accusations, including “speculation” when he does not say WHICH parts are speculative. A source should not speculate while hiding his identity.
Specifically, the claim is made that Google “requested” the media companies sue YouTube competitors, with no other evidence than the fact that Universal did sue a couple of them. Universal has the right to sue, and if it has equity in YouTube and a content deal with YouTube but not competitors, whom do you expect it to sue.
This is a sleazy accusation to make with no evidence and taking no responsibility for the claim by remaining anonymous.
Comment by Richard L. Brandt -
You knew the guys over at youtube looked up at the heavens with the biggest of grins the second the googtube deal was closed. Why? We now know. With creative deal making like this, a crush the competition attitude, and more cash in the bank than God, who will want to fight Google these days when there’s so many opportunities to poke and prod money out of them?
As far as Google now becoming the the evil company they were always trying to avoid, keep in mind that at the very heart and soul of the company has always been the mantra of striving to do revolutionary things, however now that they’re a publicly traded company, an additional mantra is, preserve shareholder value which of course is reasonable. Given Google’s smarts and cash, this spells disaster for competition. Still though, it’s simply impossible for any company, even Google, to keep an equal amount of focus on all the different business they’re trying to maintain.
Comment by Obaid -
Mark, it would be nice if you had a “print” option for your blog entries. ( especially with a larger font option for older eyes. )
It’s not that I don’t want to see the comments, I often come back to read them, but it’s nice to have your blog for subway/bus reading. also it’s nice to sit comfortably in an easy chair and read my net print-offs and then go back to the PC
Comment by ben guthrie -
Interesting and, as you say, quite plausible – thanks.
But I think it goes much further. The media companies are generally contemptible and their actions in a) seeking to keep everything for themselves and b) acquiesing in coming down hard on competitors and potential threats is par for the course. The media companies are also fighting a rearguard battle and increasingly running into difficulties whether from alleged illegal downloaders fighting back or artists complaining.
I also doubt whether the media company executives really understand what internet distribution is actually all about or the potential which exists. Google certainly does. And so – and I’m not entirely sure of the development mechanism yet – I suspect that the deal is a poisoned chalice that the media companies have got hold of and they’ll come to regret it as distribution starts to slip away even faster than now and they lose control.
Comment by Murdoch -
$1.6 billion isn’t a substantial amount of money to Google, it’s less than 1% of their own value… What company wouldn’t acquire another firm in a similar situation if it could be purchased for under a percent?
Comment by DismissedasDrone -
Very interesting piece. If this is the way that the big media companies structured the deal, it just illustrates why they’ve lost their appeal and power in the marketplace
Comment by Ritch Esra -
Thanks for post Mark. Damn your Mavs beating my Spurs last year.
I bet it is true. Google at its core is not a content creator but rather a provider. They have contempt for the content creator.
Do no evil. Right.
Everyone gives Microsoft hell for not coming up with anything new… they just buy up the little guys and slap their logo on their products. Google is the one that does this. YouTube is just the most recent. groups.google.com used to be DejaNews and before that just raw newsgroups.
I stopped using Google when they cooperated with the Chinese government to track down dissidents but wouldn’t help the US government track down pedophiles, also when news.google.com removed conservative blogs and newsites but continued to publish hate-filled anti-Jewish blogs and “newsites”.
I stopped using Safari on my Mac because the search engine is restricted to Google. Switched to Firefox and removed Google completely.
Sad… Google used to be a great company with great tools. Now their politics and manipulations outweigh any possibility I will use their tools… I have to hold my nose now when I go to YouTube. I am sure YouTube will be further corrupted by Google’s influence such that I will completely avoid it also.
Comment by S. Horne -
Interesting details, but nobody can certainly state they are true.
Comment by Alex -
I understand that the content studios want to wring every dollar out of every transaction that is possible- that’s why it made sense for them to get in on the deal with YouTube and Google.
But for the life of me, I don’t understand why these content owners are asking Google to take their videos down. Take the recent news that YouTube is removing all Comedy Central content. Why would Comedy Central want all that free advertising to go away? Think about it- every low res YouTube video is just an advertisement for the high quality versions Comedy Central sells on DVD. I don’t understand why content owners aren’t recognizing YouTube for what it is – the best advertising friend they’ve ever known.
In fact, YouTube should provide a dvd burning service that lets users create personal playlists of videos at YouTube.com and then buy the high res versions to be custom burned onto dvds which are then shipped next day. I write more about it here:
I know I would love to buy my video content in single units like you can on Itunes. But I would really love having them burned on DVD and shipped to me next day. It’s probably faster than downloading the same hi res content over the slow broadband connections we endure here in the US. And DVD gives us a storage solution that is viable precisely because it isn’t tied to our easily-corruptible computer hard drives.
Comment by JontheWayne -
I cant wait until the Writers Guild, SAG, AFTRA etc. get involved
Comment by Matt Cook -
And let’s not forget that the whole transaction was free for Google. The increase in their stock price due to the hype around the deal more than covered the 1.65 billion fee for YouTube.
Comment by Mark Barrera -
Great post Mark!
Reading bewteen the lines here it seems like a very wise move from the major labels/media giants involved. They have essentially just been brought (read bought) into the internet’s largest monopoly of “free” media content. By offering the most extensive library of media for free, they will deter most users from the traditional methods of illegal aquisition (p2p etc.) and the best thing is, they completely control the delivery and quality of this content.
By encoding the content serverside and keeping it at only a moderate resolution, there will still be a want for a high resolution version of favorite and preferred content. This will be immediately available as a purchase right there in the same window in the form of a paid high res download or express-shipped product. It’s an excellent and very convenient marketing tool for their catalogue/new releases.
Any competitor who tries to create an opposing free content site with higher resolution videos (divx etc.) will be shut down immediately as they are now competing with a conglomerate of the most powerful media organisations in the world acting as one. It seems to me to be the kind of control the major’s in the industry have been looking for since the beginning of the online phenomenon – who’d have thought that ‘free’ could be the answer?!
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Comment by Brad St Croix -
Its really unlikely that the deal structure you are outlining in fact occured. By sheltering the deal away from the artist with an equity deal the media conglomnerates risk alienating their artists who have a legal right to see some of the settlement. Since this transaction is highly public, and likely all details will make it into the open, than they would be fools to subject themselves to such a blatant abuse of their artist’s base. After all, is 50M worth pissing off all your money makers. If in fact this did occur, than we will see a fall out and possible class action suit from the artist base. If a label files to sell shares, the date of that share grant will be made attainable. So, if your claim is true, than it will all be public at some point. I just don’t think that the records labels and media folks would want to subject themselves to such a thing for 40-50Million Bucks.
Its a great read though.
Comment by DC Cullinane -
I am so glad that Google is stepping in to save YouTube. However, I never realized it would be this complicated. I think YouTube should be thanking their lucky stars about this one.
Comment by Brian Sutton Photography -
Working as I do in the image industry, and being very involved in paying artist royalties for the images we licence, I hope very much that the various agents involved here don’t allow a tricky mechanism like ‘shares’ to cause the artists involved to loose out on their just payments. All too often in these events the true ‘value creators’ (the artists) are the last to be rewarded or acknowledged unless they get so well known and important that they can afford an equal army of lawyers to match the corporations.
Comment by Gyr King -
Working as I do in the image industry, and being very involved in paying artist royalties for the images we licence, I hope very much that the various agents involved here don’t allow a tricky mechanism like ‘shares’ to cause the artists involved to loose out on their just payments. All too often in these events the true ‘value creators’ (the artists) are the last to be rewarded or acknowledged unless they get so well known and important that they can afford an equal army of lawyers to match the corporations.
Comment by Gyr King -
Absolutely fascinating – and devilishly collusive and anti-competitive. Not to mention Machiavellian, particularly in terms of the media companies finding a way to get money that they don’t have to split with the talent.
Ankit is right: “do not evil” has long since passed its expiry date at Google – if, and I say if – this is all true.
Comment by John Koetsier -
It makes sense that Google would hedge their bet on Youtube to fight the copyright battle, but I think only half of it is coming to light.
My prediction is that the mass of smaller producers will take a larger toll on their copyright coffers.
Sure a rogue music video will make it around the web in a few days. But it’s the mentos and diet coke stuff that makes it into people’s work email in a matter of minutes — THIS is viral video. Viral video is not a music video, or a 30-second clip of Family Guy, or a snippet of the Daily Show. It’s a guy getting pulled behind a car on rollerblades going off a ramp into a tree.
The point is the circus performers are going to want money at some point. And I think that is something Google grossly underestimated in Youtube.
Here’s what I’d like to know — what is the revenue generated per video… and is that revenue proportionally larger for copyrighted video? My argument would be that they are generating about the same, and both owners of videos large and small are getting ripped off.
Again Google, distributing a product does not make it yours.
Comment by Andrew -
Yea, this does sound “about right”, given some of my experiences with major media companies. It really does sound like collusion and insider information. Think the DOJ could get involved?
What hasn’t been said is how NBC could have been totally screwed in this deal if they didn’t get an equity stake. They basically enabled the rapid ramp up of YouTube with the LazySunday video and they had the ability to blow away YouTube this spring.
This leads me to believe that those that didn’t “get a cut” in the transaction may come out swinging litiguously. I’m sure Fox is pissed about the whole thing.
Comment by Chris D -
Very much likely the true unfolding!
The deal was more financial than strategic.
– Sequoa sits on both Google’s board and invested in YouTube, wanted an exit opportunity from a company which has struggled in portraying profitability
– Google with its potentially high valuation conducted an all STOCK deal! (and not cash)- so the 1.65 number, might be lesser in real terms.
THe escrow account did slip my mind, till now!
Comment by Sharad -
I agree with Curt, the worst part of that whole thing is that it started with the companies looking for ways to exclude their artists from the potential revenue. That is nauseating.
Comment by Andrew -
Want to know why music fans hate the big music conglomerates? This quote is why:
“This shelters all the up front monies from any royalty demands by allowing them to classify it as gains from an investment position. A few savvy agents might complain about receiving nothing and get a token amount, but most will be unaware of what transpired.”
The music companies have carefully manipulated the definitions in online distribution (e.g. iTunes) so that an artist receives almost no money per song, CD or bundle that is purchased. Then, the media companies go and do something like this so that they again do not have to pay the artists for the use of their music.
Yes, many of the bands/singers out today do not really have talent and were created by the media companies marketing, but many are very talented and deserve to be compensated for the use of their music when there should be a license of their music.
With that said, fair use should protect anyone that is adding a soundtrack to a personal clip, unless that person is doing it for commercial gain. The only reason that fair use will begin to breakdown for personal uses like this is if people begin to get scared and pay for this usage that will create a market for the use and thus break fair use.
Comment by John T -
Mark, Fascinating stuff, some of which makes sense and is probably true, other stuff that makes sense but probably isn’t true.
It makes sense that there was an escrow (holdback) in this deal. It also was no coincidence that the labels announced deals with YouTube the day before Google acquired them. They had inside information about the deal for sure.
The part about taking an equity position in YouTube so they wouldn’t need to share the bounty with artists is reprehensible if true. That is low and unethical even for this bunch.
On the agreement to sue other video sites I find this hard to believe. I think you were right a month ago when you said the labels would do this to get some easy wins to scare the rest of the industry into compliance and to establish case law to use in future suits.
I wrote a blog post on this today that is based on my experience with some of the same issues at Napster. The complete post can be found here. http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2006/10/details_of_the_.html
Comment by Don Dodge -
I disagree with Steve’s comment stating that a revolution isn’t an option. It is very much an option and is quietly occurring as I write. It is not a revolution in terms that the word might conjure up in one’s mind initially, but a leadership revolution coupled with a consumer rebellion. You will hear more to come very soon in the public domain, and it will be interesting to watch and be a part of.
Comment by Dave -
So the ultimate outcome is that YouTube will eventually just be an oulet for home videos – and Google Video will be their outlet for copyright videos?
Comment by Search Engines WEB -
Dang, my link didn’t make it: http://uzair.nairang.org/articles/2006/10/13/brave-new-economy/
Comment by Uzair -
Ahem, not that I know what I’m talking about (or that I’m not biased), but this sort of underhanded-ness on Google’s part (if it happened) supports my theory that their interest here is to promote hype and vanity to keep the Web 2.0 bubble going. Fo’ real.
Comment by Uzair -
Mark, I’d like more commentary from you about this.
What strikes me is that when you wrote the “I was wrong” post (http://www.blogmaverick.com/2006/10/11/i-was-wrong/) you seemed to have nailed the foul smell coming from those suits, but little did you or any of us know how the rot creating the smell reached deep google.
Your posting, combined with the news today that Google is giving up on the long tail aspect of a part of their video business (http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/10/30/google-video-goes-high-brow-with-revenue-split/) makes the stink even worse.
But given your long tail comment of a couple days ago, you seem to have nailed that one, too.
(More about this on my blog, http://CreditCardVC.com)
Comment by Scott Yates -
In the end, it is all about money. Google has bought the larger entertainment companies. They will go now after the smaller video sites like Grouper.
Comment by YouTubeFan -
Well if what is written is accurate, the only question is why anyone will hold this Gs stock? Ok they were breaking content laws, who cares, but right now they are breaking anti trust laws. And there are plenty ambitious prosecutors in this country of ours. The last question I have do they really make that much money from ads with their existing business model? Because right now they are doing very risky things and their planning and decision making seems very short-term oriented. I know it is tech biz and 3 months in tech biz is like 5 years in energy biz, but still things look fishy.
If last Mark’s post is a work of fiction of some disgrunted emloyee…. but we never know
Comment by LA Kid. -
For those accusing Google of straying from the Do No Evil motto:
Google is helping to curb piracy and the posting of copyrighted content, and it has spread to competitors. So how is that against the Do No Evil philosophy?
Comment by Matt Burris -
That sounds about right. Very good deal indeed for the Youtube guys – not much choice, but in the end I think it was the best they could have ever hoped for…
Comment by Alexander Muse -
If this is true, why in the end did Google agree to buy YouTube? Just to get rid of the competition? $1.6B seems like an awful lot if that’s the goal, particularly when so many restrictions start popping up.
Comment by Say No to Crack -
Coming soon to Landmark Theatres
Google: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
Come on, there is no way Googles advisors would let the deal go down like this. It opens too many opportunities for lawsuits from other media companies and You Tube competitors. Eliot Spitzer would be all over this like a fat kid on a smarty. I am sure much of what was described up to the first request is accurate. Much beyond that is more fantasy than reality.
Google has much more to loose than millions in lawsuits. An anti trust suit could easily cost them 10%-25% in lost market capitalization. Thats 14 35 billion at stake. That would spur shareholder lawsuits and it would get really nasty quickly. I cant foresee for a second that the reward is worth the risk in the scenario presented.
Comment by Robert -
It’s a sad day when Google goes Republican on us. The Washington Post had an interesting op-ed piece on the concept of trust:
In our society who can the average American (read: those not making enough money to buy health insurance, let alone a house or stocks) trust nowadays? Corporate America only cares about profits and distributing said profits to the rich. The rich only care about preservation of wealth. And government (neocons and liberals alike) only cares about appeasing those two entities. We live in a society where revolution isn’t an option, so who is going to save us from ourselves? Or is the start of the end of the American era?
Love reading your blogs Mark, but sometimes it’s just more depressing.
Comment by Steve -
this is an ingenious strategy, whether its true or not, the person who thought of it is certainly an evil one too..
Comment by Bjorn -
I won’t be surprised if this turns out to be true.
I also won’t be surprised if their aren’t multiple class action suits filed against the media companies who tried to cut people out of their royalties.
Comment by eas -
I think Google is a little worried about other places creating their own video areas. Google just wanted to own the biggest video spot right now and have their name on it. Good article.
Comment by Brian -
It certainly explains the flurry of lawsuits at competitors after the YouTube deal. I don’t know the law, but there seems to be something that stinks about that.
Comment by Gomer -
Google changed their official philosophy a while back. It no longer reads “Do No Evil”. Now there are “Ten things Google has found to be true”. One of these 10 things is “You can make money without doing evil.” So, they admit that they can make money without doing evil, but it is not strictly against their philosophy to do evil. And this is a perfect example.
Comment by Scott Johnson -
Mark, thanks for sharing this note. The world of negotiations between startups and established companies alike, and the continued battle between old and new media, will always be interesting. I’m glad you continue to follow this space in light of all your other activities.
Comment by Louis Gray -
Very interesting point indeed Mark.
Comment by GentleTip.com -
haha man its sooo cool that Mark Cuban is a gazillionaire but still manages to make a site with blogs 🙂
he is probably the reason that even though ima Clippers fan, i have always liked the Mavs 🙂
Comment by Benjamin Sandoval -
Very interesting behind-the-scenes info. It’ll be fascinating to see how YouTube members react over the coming months.
Comment by Richard Giles -
Very interesting. The first thing that strikes me is the cleverness of the deal from Google (one should expect that given the brains at the Executive level), but it also shows me that Google is no longer the “Do No Evil” company that they want to be perceived as. Granted, they have been going away from that position for some time now, though I did not want to see it that way.
As for the media giants, many smart people already know how unfair they are and the workings of this deal should not surprise them.
Excellent read nonetheless.
Comment by Ankit -
And the entertainment industry wonders why piracy is so rampant when they don’t share revenue with those that deserve it the most. Greed, plain and simple.
It will be nice when artists are finally empowered to distribute their own works direct to consumers without the publishers, middlemen, etc.
Comment by Curt -
Very interesting posting. Tnx, Mark.
One more article http://www.theapiary.org/archives/2006/10/comedy_central_3.html
Comment by tw -
This post completely explains corporate America. Do whatever I can to make my stock price better while hurting all the little people involved. Google needs the large media companies on board and the large media companies need Google on board. Google is turning into one of those companies that thinks they can do whatever they want because they have all the cash. It will be real intersting to see their future and see how many mistakes they make with all the cash they have.
Comment by Joe -
Very interesting stuff, looks like Youtube has everything going for it now. 6 months should be enough time to get the copyright issues sorted out with the major companies.
Comment by Ben -
Its interesting and quite scary that content-owning behemoths like Universal are complying with Google’s request for suits against Youtube competitors in order to hamper their growth and gain advantage.
“Do No Evil” ?
Comment by Chris Penney -
Interesting take on things – assuming it is accurate. I agree with you that it “smells right”.
But I am wondering what this means on a global scale. It’s one thing to get US firms to cower to Google – it’s another thng totally to accomplish the same in other countries.
And the real kicker, I think, is when artists figure it out – and want their cut, not just from the labels, but from Google.
In any case, it will without doubt be interesting to watch!
Comment by Rob La Gesse -
Comments are closed.