Flixster CEO: With Rotten Tomatoes, We’ve ‘Leapfrogged’ Everyone

Joe Greenstein: “We’re not just an ‘emerging’ player anymore”

Flixster announced on Monday the acquisition of IGN’s Rotten Tomatoes. The all-stock deal gives Flixster a majority stake, with News Corp.-owned IGN maintaining minority ownership.

I spoke with Joe Greenstein, chief executive of Flixster, about the strategy behind the buy, and what’s next for both.

How long was this deal in the works?

Joe Greenstein: It was about two months, I’d say, from when we came up with the concept. It was really something that came out of personal relationships between Roy [Bahat] and IGN and myself. And it came from this shared vision, that working together made a lot of sense, we could create something that right away would leapfrog our competitors and make us a leader in the category.

Who do you think you are leapfrogging?

Greenstein: Look, IMDB is the biggest site in the category, and you have Yahoo! Movies, Moviefone and Fandango, too. We have a lot of respect for the other categories, but this deal puts us right up there with anyone. We’re not just an “emerging” player anymore.
 
Some people I’ve spoken with think this is a deal squarely aimed at IMDB.

Greenstein: IMDB has the richest database out of anyone. But we feel we have the pieces in place to go after them, sure. I think with the combined resources, we become the leader with respect to reviews and ratings, and combining the Flixster community and community-generated content with Rotten Tomatoes, we can build a complete site.

What are the short-term and long-term goals?

Greenstein: Rotten Tomatoes is an iconic brand, an authoritative voice of critical opinions on movies. And Flixster, we have (and can tap into) the user buzz surrounding a movie, using any mobile device. So the vision is that we can become the single-most useful resource for someone trying to decide what movie they want to see. The pieces are already in place.

How about short-term? Are there other deals in the works?

Greenstein: The first step is taking advantage of this relationship. That’s our immediate priority. For all the reasons I’ve mentioned, we feel we have the pieces in place.

The terms were not disclosed, but can you give me an idea on the price?

Greenstein: It’s an all-stock deal, with IGN maintaining a minority shareholder position and one non-voting observer [Bahat] on the board.