ShoZu Goes to Critical Path - Cross Network Publishing Doesn't Seem to Be a Stand-Alone Business
Hours after high-profile Silicon Valley social aggregation service Seesmic announced that it acquired angel-backed cross-network publishing service Ping.fm, a similar deal was announced in Europe. Identity management service Critical Path, maker of software called Memova, announced that it has acquired mobile uploading service ShoZu, a company that had received an enormous amount of venture capital.
Rumors of the deal were first reported in mid-December by Robin Wauters of TechCrunch. Now the deal is done, reports leading European mobile blogger Ewan Spence. We're hearing that the announcement will be officially released later today. Update: We just received the official press release as well.
ShoZu raised more than $30 million to build a mobile app that allows users to publish photos, videos and text to more than 50 different destination social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Blip.tv and more. The service has long been popular on Nokia phones and sells an iPhone app for $5. Shozu was voted one of our readers' favorite mobile apps in 2007. For more about ShoZu see this Techcraver interview with the company's CEO.
Critical Path is a little like a combination of Plaxo and Verisign. It offers messaging and social apps, APIs, Identity Management and Access Control.
Was this the big exit that ShoZu's investors sought? Almost definitely not. Critical Path is an innovative service that's got some big customers like BT, France Telecom and Orange, but it's unlikely that ShoZu came at a high price. Spence alludes to the same when he writes that Critical Path "saw the potential of combining their Memova platform suite with ShoZu's engineering." Update: In the official release, ShoZu Board Director Nigel Pilkington from lead investor SEB Venture Capital UK, called the deal "a successful outcome for us." Maybe that's being polite, maybe it's true or maybe it was a small success financially.
It's most likely a talent deal and evidence that cross-platform publishing tools like ShoZu, Ping.fm and competitor Pixel Pipe are probably not stand-alone businesses. Just like FriendFeed's aggregation across scores of APIs wasn't enough to make it a success outside of being scooped up by the much, much larger Facebook - these other companies that create the pipes for the tubes just aren't compelling enough to a large number of consumers.
They do make nice acquisition targets, though, and show that the future of the social web may not be found in reading and writing to one single network like Twitter or Facebook. The savvy companies that are building value on top of those networks are also dedicating resources to bring on engineers skilled at working with far more networks to publish to or read from.