The only reason Autodesk’s surprise acquisition of mobile video-sharing company SocialCam for $60 million is not eye-popping is because we are still putting our glassies back in their sockets from Facebook’s billion-dollar Instagram grab a few months back.
Ever since Zuckerberg used his pocket change to buy that fledgling image-sharing app, the industry has been preoccupied with “The Next Instagram.” All eyes turned to the video-sharing category, naturally, since recent analytics showed that the social multimedia segment was growing faster than any other mobile content vertical. Viddy and SocialCam were the key players, but no one expected the other shoe to drop so soon.
And why the design software publisher Autodesk, of all companies? It turns out that SocialCam will go into the consumer group at the company, and Autodesk has been making a series of acquisitions aimed at pumping up both mobile and consumer-facing presence: Pixlr, Instructables, etc. In some sense, these are the kinds of moves that Adobe has been making in branching outside of b2b products and looking for ways to access the consumer and perhaps marketing services.
Obviously, Autodesk is a weird fit with SocialCam, although their VP in charge of consumer products says it is all about advancing the art of shared design ideas. “Mobile computing, the cloud and social media are improving and changing the way people design, engineer and create projects,” Samir Hanna says in a company statement. “Video is an ideal medium for professionals and consumers alike to communicate and share their design ideas.”
Yeah, well -- maybe. As we observed about SocialCam last month, founder Michal Seibel, who spun the company off from Justin.tv, has some sharp ideas about mobile video as a marketing tool. Sports teams, music stars and even GE and packaged goods makers are among the most followed entities on the network. He speculates about how marketers could make geo-triggered videos available to customers within event venues or any other location.
SocialCam is already synched in with the mobile alerts systems. Being able to offer advertisers and brand partners a mobile design platform that distributes geotargeted video experiences? That doesn’t sound like too much of a stretch for a legacy software company that has to start thinking outside of the retail box.