Autodesk Acquires Socialcam for $60M to Add to Media Creation Tools

Today 3D design, engineering and entertainment software company Autodesk signed a definitive agreement to acquire mobile video startup Socialcam for $60 million. The deal is expected to close this fall, and Autodesk said in an announcement that they will support the existing Socialcam community while investing in scaling the platform and developing a more comprehensive set of tools for users.

Socialcam founder Michael Seibel said in an interview about the acquisition that they thought Autodesk was a fit due to the fact that they were willing to let them run independently. “There were a couple reasons why we thought it was an amazing fit,” he said. “First, Autodesk was really interested in us running this company, and this product, independently, within their organization. They really saw Socialcam as defining a new category of content, and they wanted us to run with the ball as far as possible.” Their team of four will all join Autodesk, but will operate out of Socialcam’s new San Francisco offices, which they moved into less than a month ago.

Seibel also said the company is a fit because of their existing consumer media creation offerings. Media and entertainment is one of the four core markets Autodesk serves, and it seems to be expanding its efforts in the mobile entertainment space, acquiring photo editing service Pixlr in July 2011, launching the Sketchbook Ink for iPad app in May 2012, and releasing its 123D Catch 3D modelling app for iPad in May. “Autodesk’s consumer group has been slightly underhyped,” he said. “They have been able to essentially put together one of the best-in-class photography apps with Pixlr, probably the best-in-class drawing app in Sketchbook, and now Socialcam to round out the offering with video,” Seibel said. “Being able to attack media creation from multiple angles within this larger effort was really, really appealing.” Though Seibel said they will be hiring additional team members, he said the acquisition “isn’t our excuse to go build socialcam into a 20 person team,” but he does want to bring on staff to address things like improving the Android app.

Since launching in 2011, Socialcam has amassed 16 million downloads of its iOS mobile video app. The application lets users shoot, edit and share videos, both through the iOS app, on Facebook, and on the company’s website. Seibel said that going forward, the company will be focused on making it more attractive to take videos, and increasing the amount of feedback users get when they shoot a video. As for how closely they will collaborate or integrate with Autodesk’s existing media creation properties, Seibel said time will tell. “Our primary focus is on video creation and making more video creators in the world, but I do think we’ll be able to collaborate with these other great products and who knows what’s going to come out of that.”

Socialcam debuted a new web presence in May 2012, one that was completely separate from Facebook and appeared to be an attempt to distance the company from criticisms about how they handled YouTube videos, which led them to alter how they displayed YouTube videos, both on their site and on Facebook. Socialcam CEO Michael Seibel told BetaKit at the time that they wanted to give users the ability to do as much on the website as they cold through Facebook or the mobile app.

This isn’t Autodesk’s first acquisition this year; they acquired Vela Systems in June, a company that provides management software for the construction industry. The company also made several acquisitions in 2011, including DIY community Instructables in August 2011, as well as Pixlr.

Socialcam has often been compared to mobile video startup Viddy, which raised $30 million in Series B funding in May 2012, coming on the heels of $6 million in Series A funding in February 2012. But despite the huge funding rounds and millions of users, it wasn’t really clear which startup would become the Instagram of video, and arguably neither have secured the title.

The big question is whether Socialcam can sustain the growth it’s experienced over the last year, or whether their growth can be attributed to its Facebook Timeline and Open Graph integration. BusinessInsider reported in June that the company has eight million daily active users, which is a sizeable amount regardless of how they amassed them. With a revamped presence and now the backing of Autodesk, the company is poised to add to its user base, but whether it will ever become the Instagram of video is yet to be seen.

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin has covered startups and technology for over three years in publications including Sprouter Weekly, The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, Mashable, and VentureBeat. She also writes a regular startup column for the Financial Post, and is a technology expert on CTV News Channel. Before BetaKit Erin worked as Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter from its launch in 2009 until its acquisition by Postmedia Network Inc. She was recently named one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30 in 2012.

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