Yahoo May Be Offering Video Startup Qwiki $50 Million, But That's Nothing Compared To What Google Offered

doug imbruce, qwiki, june 2012, bi, dngDoug Imbruce, founder of Qwiki.

AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher says Yahoo and Qwiki are in serious acquisition talks. Marissa Mayer is eying the video app creator for about $50 million.

We heard similar chatter last month but when we asked Doug Imbruce, Qwiki’s founder,  he replied: “? Nothing to chat about.”

Today we asked again about the acquisition rumour and his response was different: “No comment.”

Qwiki makes sense for Yahoo. It’s a mobile-heavy startup that’s not too expensive for Mayer. But Imbruce could have sold his company for double or even triple the amount a few years ago.

When Qwiki launched in 2010, it received a lot of hype. It won TechCrunch Disrupt 2010 by demoing an alarm clock app that read overnight news and weather to you. That type of app was one vision for Qwiki. Another was to make all information watchable. Essentially, Qwiki wanted to replace Wikipedia pages and create searchable video content.

That concept attracted Mayer while she worked for Google. Google offered to purchase Qwiki for $100-150 million soon after Disrupt. But Imbruce had already sold one company and he wanted to hold on to Qwiki. He turned down the offer and raised $10 million. Qwiki secured a search deal with Microsoft Bing for its video product.

After the early hype died down, Qwiki faced common startup struggles. It lost its co-founder, Louis Monier, who created AltaVista. It was difficult to gain traction and the company changed its core concept (or pivoted) three times. It also moved its headquarters from Silicon Valley to New York City which cost Qwiki some of its core talent.

Imbruce took a gamble by turning down Google just months after its launch. While a Yahoo buyout could still be a win for Imbruce and his investors, it’s not the return they could have had a few years ago.

Why do founders turn down eye-popping amounts of money? Check out: These Startups May Have Blown It By Turning Down $100 Million >

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