New Superheroes at MySpace

Flektor. Photobucket. These are brilliant superhero names, aren't they? News Corp. (NYSE: NWS  ) certainly hopes so. The parent of the popular MySpace social networking site is acquiring both sites, making the already powerful dot-com star even more dangerous to its cyberspace adversaries.

You won't find genetic spider bites, lab experiments gone awry, or evacuations out of Krypton here. Flektor and Photobucket learned how to fly by making the eye candy that Internet users crave.

Photobucket became a photo-sharing juggernaut by offering flexible media storage features. Allowing users to embed their uploads into blogs, social networks, and personal websites made it a viral hit. It now watches over 42 million users, hosting 2.8 billion images in the form of digital stills, remixed slideshows, and short videos.

The site isn't much of a moneymaker in its present form. The attraction is that the site is generous, providing most of its services for free (even though users can pay for a premium offering for $25 a year, which includes more storage capacity, longer videos, and larger image uploads).

Flektor allows users to manipulate snapshots, video clips, and music files, transforming them into things like online photobooks, polls, and movies. Photobucket and Flektor are no strangers to MySpace users, as profile pages are often loaded with the embedded applications.

Half of the deal isn't much of a surprise. Valleywag reported that News Corp. was in talks to buy Photobucket earlier this month. Flektor is just the eye candy icing on the cake.

It's poetic to see News Corp. announce the deals on the same day that Viacom (NYSE: VIA  ) launched a $4 billion share repurchase. It was News Corp. that outbid Viacom in acquiring MySpace two years ago. History repeats, with News Corp. spending its greenbacks while Viacom decides to invest in itself instead.

It's a snapshot of contrasts. Given enough time, I'm sure I could turn that portrait into a poll on Flektor, leaving it up to the audience to decide where Viacom went wrong or when News Corp. will stop pigging out on virtual real estate.

Socially network to more Foolish articles:

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz still prefers to watch video clips on YouTube over MySpace. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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