StudiVZ was once the leading social networking platform for students in German-speaking countries, and was able to fend off Facebook for quite a while before entering a remarkably steady decline in the past few years.
In fact, when studiVZ was launched in late 2005 it was widely regarded as a straight-up Facebook clone, and in fact Facebook ended up suing studiVZ in a California federal court back in 2008, for copying its look, feel, features and services. The companies later settled and the case was dismissed.
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In January 2007, StudiVZ was still riding high though, resulting in a high-profile exit to one of its investors, publishing group Holtzbrinck, which bought the social network for 85 million euros ($109.3 million today).
But, of course, Facebook slowly but surely took over in Germany and it didn’t take long for Holtzbrinck to regret the acquisition. After unsuccessfully trying to sell off the site (actually, a group of sites – see below) for a while, Holtzbrinck this morning announced that investment firm Vert Capital bought it wholesale.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Vert is buying all the shares of Poolworks, which actually operates three social networks (studiVZ, meinVZ and schuelerVZ). However, there’s still an option to keep schuelerVZ in the hands of Holtzbrinck, with no further details provided at this point.
Vert Capital is a private merchant bank / digital media fund that says it will add the Poolworks network of sites to its portfolio of social media and entertainment holdings division. According to some local reports, Vert is actually also the latest owner of social network Bebo, but it’s suspiciously difficult to find any kind of information on the investment firm and who is behind it.
The statement says the ‘VZ’ social networking sites will remain online, and Vert even promises to ‘refocus’ and ‘reinvigorate’ the platforms.
Somehow, though, I doubt we’ll be seeing any uplifting news about studiVZ or any of its sister sites in the future.