Back in January I had several very good leads telling me that WAYN, the social network for travelers was in talks with AOL about a $200m sale. A term sheet was said to be imminent. I called WAYN but they denied the whole thing and, via another channel, I heard they were a little put out by my ‘rumour-mongering’, as they saw it.
In hindsight I must have been both premature, and also slightly off target – it turned out that AOL was in talks to buy a company which WAYN’s VC investor DFJ Esprit was involved in. BUt it wasn’t WAYN. It was their stable-mate, buy.at, a sale which duly happened, for around $150 million, in February.
Oh well, I thought, you win some, you lose some.
But now it appears WAYN is happy for the sale rumours to float once again, according to The Guardian. Perhaps especially now Bebo has been picked up by, you guessed it, AOL – the dumb-money exit for startups and “the place where innovation goes to die“.
According to reports, WAYN has fended off several approaches and AOL is meant to have been one “interested” party. As the Guardan says, there is indeed a certain whiff of opportunistic PR around the story. But hey, who can blame them? They may as well ride the Bebo wave, right? The price being floated this time round is £100m, or around $200m. Hmmnn, sounds familiar…
But The Guardian values them at closer to £58m based on comScore’s 3.1m unique users per month and 340,000 active monthly unique users in the UK. Oh dear.
At any rate, WAYN founders Peter Ward and Jerome Touze should get a better reception from Silicon Valley than us cynical British hacks when they fly over there for the government-backed Web Mission project in April. I’ll be tagging along as part of the press pack, and will see if I can’t tempt them into giving me the story over a beer or two. And I’ll be noting if they skip off to a meeting with AOL…