Keeping his spring dealmaking spree going, Quincy Smith just bought Last.fm for CBS (CBS) to the tune of $280 million. (He's the CBS exec behind the deals with Web video and Web widget companies, as well as the one who bought the videoblog Wallstrip recently).
With 15 million users, Last.fm (An original Next Net startup) is a smart buy for a media company that owns a lot of radio stations. I mean, who listens to the radio anymore? It's so annoying. Last.fm, in contrast, programs commercial-free streaming radio for you over the Web based on the playlists of songs you've been listening to on your computer as well as what's on teh playlists of other Last.fm listeners like you. It's social music, where the people are the programmers. It is also one of the best of the new so-called music discovery engines out there (others include Pandora and Finetune).
The $280 million is a tidy sum for a Web 2.0 startup. It's not Facebook numbers (which reportedly turned down nearly $1 billion from Yahoo), but it's also not Flickr numbers (which sold itself two years ago to Yahoo for a rumored $30 million). And with royalty rates on streaming Web music set to soar, Last.fm picked a perfect time to sell. CBS can afford to pay those higher rates. A standalone Last.fm, might not have been able to survive them.