Universal Pictures on Wednesday sold its stake in popular Web site Animalhouse.com to partner Hyundai Information Technology Co. for about $4 million.
Under terms of the deal, the Korean-based subsidiary of Hyundai Business Group, which owns the Hyundai car company, takes full ownership of the site, which targets college students with free e-mail, job boards, chat rooms, online shopping, news, travel and games.
Although expected, U’s move to unload its stake in the Web site is still unusual, coming at a time when studios are beefing up their efforts on the Internet and especially considering the demographic the site attracted.
The sale means U has only its corporate Web site and the Universal Music Group sites to fall back on.
“We grew the site into something amazing and that we’re proud of,” said a source at U close to the deal. “But U has decided to focus more on its core businesses.”
U and Hyundai launched the site last summer, investing $6 million in the effort. The site’s value is expected to have been boosted after attracting a slew of advertisers and more than 1 million registered users, mostly college students.
“In the past seven months, Animalhouse.com has proven that there is a real need for the Web site,” HIT prexy Sam Soo Pyo said. “Animalhouse.com has captured a dedicated audience among today’s Internet-savvy college students.”
Separately, Hyundai tapped David Hankin to serve as Animalhouse.com’s new CEO. He plans to expand the site for pre- and post-college audiences.
“Universal did what they could, but their focus is obviously elsewhere, especially on the music side,” Hankin said.
Hankin was veep of business affairs for Sony Online Entertainment, where he oversaw both the division and the gaming site Station@sony.com.
Law firm Katten Muchin & Zavis repped Hyundai in the deal.