[Update: The Fotodunk purchase price was $120,000. Our previous guess of between $1 and $5 million stemmed from a confidential discussion that turns out to have been misinformed. Apologies]You’ve been hearing a lot about iLike lately, and they have more coming.
It’s a fresh a way of seeing a list of the music your friends are listening to, and to get recommendations on independent artists based on your tastes (we wrote about it here).
VentureBeat has been tinkering with it, and we find ourselves headed down to the Apple store to buy an iPod for the first time. We’ve been reluctant to buy an iPod so far, in a futile effort to avoid getting locked in — but iLike has pushed us over the edge. Here’s why: Simplicity.
There’s a lot going on, but iLike keeps things straightforward. A partial screenshot of iLike chief executive Ali Partovi’s profile on iLike is shown below. (We’ve cropped away other parts, such as his friends and comments sidebars). But you’ll see the music he has recently played. If you click on the “California Girls” link, a short MP3 will play. But here’s the cool part. iLike has just added a “play video” option, which searches for a video on YouTube that matches the song, and plays one if it finds it.
Moreover, if you look at his most-played artists (lower down on his profile, not shown in image here), you can click on one, say Jack Johnson, and it will take you to Johnson’s profile, which lets you try out snippets of all his songs on iTunes. There’s a whole bunch going on, including the emergence of a social networking phenom — people commenting on a “comment bar” of friends, for example. There are compatibility scores, so that if your friends are highly compatible with you in music tastes, you can get more recommendations.
In a way, this reminds us of Facebook. It is a clean, structured site that is useful for a group of people with a common interest (in Facebook, it was college life; in iLike, it is music discovery), but is not open to the garish creativity you find at MySpace.
Finally, this company, which has no ties to Apple other than a trademark agreement to allow it use the similar iLike/Garageband name, is going to be doing a lot more.
For example, iLike is upgrading its mobile offerings, VentureBeat has learned. It has quietly purchased Fotodunk, a site that lets mobile phone users send photos via email to a its server, and which uploads the photos directly into a Flash widget on a MySpace profile. The company is now working for iLike on a secret project, to be disclosed later. Our guess is the purchase was for between $1M and $5M [this was wrong; see update above] — not bad for three guys who started FotoDunk in April while still at Cal: David McIntosh, 19, Daniel Kluesing, 21, Alan Rutledge, 21. A fourth co-founder, Darian Shirazi, 19, left Facebook after two years of work in September, and joined the team before the purchase. (These guys met with the iLike folks at in a Fulsom St. bar in SF to sign the documents, but were forced to go into an alleyway to finish the deal because there were underage).
The service itself wasn’t that profound, but was very easy to use (see Mobilecrunch review). Helio, for example has offered the service before; but Fotodunk expanded it for use on all cell-phones. It launched in May, and had thousands of users within two weeks. We’re wondering whether they may just upgrade the photo service to video, and integrate it all.