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Can Art.com Founder Really Have It All After the Sale?

Getty Images, a Seattle-based provider of stock photography and film footage, offered Lederer $200 million for Art.com. After careful consideration, Lederer shook hands.

Money aside, Lederer believed the acquisition was the right decision for Art.com’s future because of Getty’s "outstanding critical mass of proprietary content, deep financial resources, common vision for our business and willingness to allow the company to develop independently."

Also important was Getty’s decision to let Lederer remain at the helm, guiding the company he founded just three years ago with $700,000 of personal savings. (Prior to the acquisition, venture capitalists sweetened the pot with another $11.5 million.) Since the sale, activity has been fast and furious at Art.com: Alliances with organizations like Visa, numerous women’s Web sites and online-auction operations have been announced almost weekly. Although Lederer likes to believe those partnerships would have happened eventually without Getty, he credits the new parent with making the momentum possible.

"Many companies and individuals would like to be associated with [Getty], so deals that perhaps would have been more difficult to close as an independent entity have become much easier to negotiate," says Lederer.

Looking for Growth

The acquisition has enabled Lederer to revise his goals and become more than just an online warehouse of pictures. First on the agenda: an acquisition that will allow Art.com to provide personal art consultants to customers. Down the road, Lederer is looking to broaden Art.com’s vision, perhaps even investing in an Internet-related human-resources company.

"I’ve got this opportunity that’s very rare at this moment in time for the Internet to be able to think very broadly about things," says Lederer. "We are meeting our short-term financial goals, so now it’s an opportunity to say, ‘How much bigger and better can we be?’ There’s a pretty big vision there, and we have a lot of tools at our disposal."

Writer: Julie Cook