The leading Russian media holding Gazprom-Media is closing a deal to acquire a majority stake in the largest Russian independent online video community site RuTube valuing the business at $15 million, reports business daily Kommersant today. As a part of the deal, the buyer would also invest several million dollars in the RuTube business. The deal is a nice exit for the RuTube private founders who bootstrapped the site for less than two years. It is especially interesting because major Western video sharing sites either failed to find a buyer and thus had to raise multi-million dollar funding or change business models over the past year.
RuTube, which has 400 thousand daily users and more than 40 million video views per month, could generate monthly revenues of $400 thousand. The RuTube founders were inspired by Google’s acquisition of YouTube and launched the site in November 2006 from the provincial Russian city of Oriol.
Kommersant also cities that ABRT venture fund (an investor in visual-based search engine Quintura) offered to invest in RuTube at about $5 million valuation in early summer 2007.
Gazprom-Media is one of the largest media holdings in Russia and Europe. Among other media properties, it owns popular Russian TV channels NTV and TNT that already started broadcasting TV shows on RuTube.
RuTube was one of the first to online video community market in Russia. It also early released its API to allow partner sites hosting videos on RuTube.ru and displaying them on their own sites. To attract early users, RuTube started broadcasting some regional TV channels online as well as show football matches and special launch events live. The company began deploying its own backbone network in Moscow and other regional cities in autumn 2007.
The other online video sharing sites operating in Russia include Video@Mail.ru, Rambler Vision, and YouTube.