A source close to the company tells Valleywag that Fotolog, the social network and photo-sharing site, has been sold to a large Latin American company for an amount over $100 million. Fotolog CEO John Borthwick, who's on his way to Italy for a family vacation, hasn't returned a request for comment. Update: "As if," emails Fotolog cofounder Scott Heiferman. Still, the rumored sale, if true, makes eminent sense for Fotolog — and for Borthwick. Fotolog, though based in New York City, never took off in its home market. But overseas, especially in Latin America, it's huge. The site, which asks users to post a single photo every day, now counts more than 10 million members. While clearly successful, Fotolog is just one of many ventures for Borthwick, a former executive at AOL and Time Warner — and a sale would free him up to pursue those.
Borthwick also runs Betaworks, a technology-company incubator, where his startups include Daylife, Tumblr, Outside.in, and Iminlikewithyou.com. Tumblr, especially, seems to be gaining traction as a new blogging platform, and would make for a logical project to focus on.
But first, of course, he has to wrap up Fotolog's affairs. The deal has been signed, we hear, but not yet announced, and Valleywag hasn't yet learned the name of the acquirer. Our tipster says it's not, surprisingly, Grupo Clarin, an Argentinean media company with which Fotolog has a partnership. The sale price is rich, at four or five times the $20 million to $25 million sum Yahoo is believed to have paid for Flickr a couple of years ago.
Fotolog, however, is more social network than photo-storage site. Unlike Flickr, or the News Corp.-owned Photobucket, whose photos mostly appear elsewhere — mostly on sister site MySpace — Fotolog users view photos on the site itself, and then discuss them and chat with friends they meet on the site. With most of its users in Europe and Latin America, Fotolog's probably better off owned by someone close to its user base.
The sale, assuming all goes as our source has heard, will be a handsome payoff for venture capital backers 3i and BV Capital, as well as Fotolog's angel investors, who put a total of $12 million into the company.