A tipster tells us Hype Machine founder Anthony Volodkin has a "$10 million Viacom offer floating around." Hype Machine, a website which aggregates music uploaded to blogs, has grown 125 percent in the last year, with 127,000 monthly visitors, according to Compete.com. Another source familiar with Volodkin's plans for Hype Machine can't confirm Viacom's offer, but said an acquisition would be the next logical step. Volodkin has been very careful to avoid taking venture capital, "despite VCs going hard after him," this second source tells us. Update: A third source says Hype Machine has been sold, but not for $10 million and not to Viacom. Whoever the buyer is, the sale rumor, if true, captures a frustrating state of affairs for technology's financiers.
Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures once described Hype Machine as "the best thing to happen to music since the Rolling Stones!" But for a founder like Volodkin, taking nearly all of a $10 million offer must surely seem more attractive than rolling the dice by taking venture capital and trying to get a smaller slice of a larger jackpot. Some VCs have resorted to bribing founders — buying shares outright, rather than just increasing their paper wealth — to dissuade them from selling, as Automattic's investors did with Matt Mullenweg. VCs like to talk about making entrepreneurs wealthy. But they like to arrange things so they hitch a ride to the payday.