It looks like artists are about to get an infusion of web design and online commerce expertise, thanks to web development platform Wix. Wix just acquired the art community website DeviantArt for $36 million in cash and $3 million of assumed liabilities.
The deal aims to give artists on DeviantArt access to Wix’s web design tools so they can build out more dynamic online presences. The services also include commerce support which would help artists grow their online businesses. And for Wix, users creating their own websites may soon be able to access the wealth of original artwork on Deviantart which artists make available to be licensed.
“Over its 16-year history, DeviantArt has built an impressive online community that is incredibly loyal, highly engaged and regularly produces stunning art and design,” said Avishai Abrahami, Co-founder and CEO of Wix. “The DeviantArt community is talented and robust and hungry for additional product expertise. We understand their passion, share their creative vision and are excited to offer the power of the Wix platform to their millions of artists.”
DeviantArt is one of the world’s most thriving online art communities with over 325 million individual pieces of original art and more than 40 million registered members. Amazingly, a lot of its growth is through word-of-mouth and the company has put virtually zero investment into advertising or marketing. Wix plans to continue running the site as a standalone platform after the deal.
Understandably, some in the DeviantArt community expressed worries about what this deal would mean for their intellectual property rights. DeviantArt CEO Angelo Sotir addressed this with a blog post stating: “Deviants continue to own their own works. In the future, there’s a possibility Wix might provide opportunities for you to license your work — only if you want to — to more people around the world. And, there will be opportunities for Wix users to join DeviantArt and make the community stronger.”
If the licensing functionality does get added, it could be a great way to give artists more exposure and a new revenue stream. Meanwhile, it puts Wix in a position to strengthen its value proposition to companies looking for engaging and original graphics for their websites.
In light of the deal, Wix raised its 2017 revenue outlook by $8 million to $417-$419 million. And it plans to invest in DeviantArt by doing things like giving the site a much needed UI makeover and raising the company’s headcount in R&D and sales and marketing.