Yahoo completes acquisition of Broadcast.com
Timing is everything. That simple truism is demonstrated by many things, not the least of which was Yahoo's acquisition of Broadcast.com on July 20, 1999. In 1995, two college friends, Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, started a company called Audionet that would stream live events like sports over the web. The company grew to over 300 employees, renamed itself Broadcast.com, and then was bought by Yahoo for a staggering $5.9 billion in Yahoo stock. Months later, the dotcom boom bust, but Cuban and Wagner had already smartly diversified and remained incredibly wealthy. Today if you type "Broadcast.com" into your browser, you'll just be sent to Yahoo, with much of what the company did being done differently now as technology has changed. For the film industry, however, the significance of the deal may lie more in the wealth it created for Cuban and Wagner and the uses they went on to put it towards. The two formed 2929 Entertainment, which is a producer (Good Night, and Good Luck), distributor (it owns Magnolia Pictures) and exhibitor (2929 acquired Landmark Cinema). And, as they hail from outside the film business, Cuban and Wagner have demonstrated a desire to challenge industry bromides, particularly championing "day and date" screenings, in which films open in theaters and on home viewing platforms the same day. Cuban also formed HDNet, which brings high-definition content directly into the home. But, of course, there is only so much upside in the entertainment business. Recent news reports speculate that Cuban may buy the Texas Rangers and is investing in a company that employs facial-recognition software to scan crowds and "check in" people to social networking sites.