Whether you like it or not, you know Socialcam. It’s the spammy, ever-present video application that has taken over the Facebook News Feed and shames watchers by giving their friends details about all the terrible videos they’re willing to watch on the Internet. Despite Socialcam’s borderline sketchy reputation (featuring popular YouTube videos to drive traffic, namely), it has amassed a number of users and been part of the “Instagram for video” arms race of the last year.
And now it’s been acquired by Autodesk, creators of CAD and AutoCAD, for $60 million. It’s a bit of a surprising buy, given Autodesk’s apparent entire lack of interest in social-mobile applications and its very corporate appearance, but the company’s focus on 3D imaging and design software is apparently what led its interest in Socialcam.
This isn’t Autodesk’s first venture into consumer imaging applications, however: Autodesk also acquired Pixlr, the filter-heavy Web, Facebook, and mobile app that’s been fairly popular. Clearly, there’s been a progression from professional tools to those that are more interesting to the Facebook generation.
Thus, enter Socialcam. It gives Autodesk a leg up with the share-happy users it’s trying to corner, as well as a channel to develop consumer video technology. And it gives Socialcam… well, in addition to the $60M, the ability to continue operating independently and grow the product with a lot more money and some talented engineers at its disposal.
Given Autodesk’s expertise in 3D creation software, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Socialcam introduce a SpinCam sort of feature, where you take 360 degree shots, and combine that with some sort of 3D element. However, if we know anything about Socialcam, it isn’t about creating interesting content so much as popular content, so we’ll have to see if the influx of capital and resources changes that.
Also worth noting is that at this point, we might need to call off that previously mentioned “Instagram for video” competition. Video and stills create different interactions and communities, and it just doesn’t seem like the various video platforms are having the Instagram effect on their users. A handful are interesting in their own right, but it’s safe to say that no one is about to unload $1 billion on any of them.