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[personal profile] stewardess

"Chris M Williams, VP and general manager of Disney Online Originals, has left the 'Mouse House.'"

"Williams gave up his US-based role on January 31 after four years with the company. Disney reps confirmed the news this week."

"While at Disney, Williams oversaw development and production of series for Disney Online’s websites. He executive produced kids’ series such as Rule the Mix and Corey & Lucas For The Win."

"Williams joined Disney in 2008 when the media giant acquired his two-year-old fan-fiction content group FanLib, which was then rebranded as Take180."

Full article at C21Media; author Jesse Whittock.

FanLib was not actually rebranded as Take180. All FanLib content (fan created and otherwise) was wiped before its servers and software were used by Disney to host Take180, a "fanisode" video hosting site. See the disney buyout tag in this community for the full story -- or at least as much of the story as can be pieced together, since Williams and the other FanLib owners have never commented publicly on what occurred.

This entry was also posted at the Life Without FanLib Community on Livejournal.
[identity profile]
Gotta love those public records. The tale of the FanLib trademark tells us bunches.

It seems Disney began acquiring FanLib in May, 2008, and completed the process in June, two months before FanLib announced it was "closing."

I base this on the trademark records "Attorney Revoked And/Or Appointed" dated 5/28/2008, and "Automatic Update Of Assignment Of Ownership" on 6/11/2008. The first rumor of the buyout appeared June 3, 2008 -- a rumor FanLib denied right through its "closure" in August, 2008.

Disney now owns the FanLib trademark, which means it could resurrect it at some point; the FanLib software and servers presently support the Disney property

The FanLib trademark, classed as "Goods and/or Services," covers "providing temporary use of on-line non-downloadable software to facilitate the creation, conceptualization, and editing of a variety of movies, television shows, novels, plays, videogames, and other content or media, through user suggestions, concepts, ideas, collaboration, and voting."
[identity profile]

Less than 18 months after acquiring Ideal Bite for $20 million, the Walt Disney Co. is folding the green-living tips company into the Disney Interactive Media Group. Disney spokeswoman Michelle Bergman said it's not being shut down, that DIMG is "evaluating the situation" and has made no staffing decisions yet. But it may not be that simple. A source familiar with the situation tells paidContent that staff members were told Friday in a conference call that they were being laid off effective Dec. 9. Cofounders Heather Stephenson and Jennifer Boulden, who started the company in 2005, signed three-year contracts in 2008. They have not yet returned voice messages; Leigh Zarelli, a Disney VP working with emerging business acquisitions, referred questions to Bergman. A staffer who did return my call said I may have gotten some misinformation but couldn't talk about it.

Ideal Bite, which was supposed to be Disney's answer to DailyCandy, offers seven newsletters and a site that links to, and other ABC sites. It's one of a number of "emerging" businesses Disney acquired over the past couple of years, including Digisynd, picked up for $15 million, and FanLib, now known as Bergman says moving Ideal Bite into the Interactive group was always the plan. Technically, the emerging business group is part of DIMG but have been reporting to the corporate strategy group.

Emphasis added.
[identity profile]
From, dated March 31, 2009:

Burbank-based announced Tuesday that the firm has officially launched a web site which looks to create original web series based on audience participation. The site--which is owned by The Walt Disney Company--said it has created three web series called "My Date," "I <3 Vampires" and "Electric Spoofaloo" all derived from user videos, stories, photos, and artwork. The new site is headed by Chris M. Williams, and has been in beta since the fall of last year; the site is built on top of Los Angeles-based FanLib, which was also headed by Williams and acquired by Disney last year.
[identity profile]
The continuing saga of the worst kept secret ever: has picked up short-form Web series, My Alibi, from Disney-owned Take 180, a teen-targeted portal that creates short-form Web series and then integrates viewer ideas and submissions into those series.

Take 180 is run by Chris Williams, who used to run a site called Fan Lib. That site did something similar – it got fans engaged in shows and tried to incorporate their views into storylines. FanLib worked on engaging fans with existing shows, such as Showtime’s The L Word. Take 180 goes a step further: it offers lots of opportunities for fans to get involved with online shows that it’s producing.

Rest of the article at Chris Williams was CEO of FanLib before the company "closed" on August 4, 2008. Disney's Take180, built on top of FanLib's servers and with its software, opened around August 29, 2008.

[identity profile]
When Disney bought FanLib, what did it get, and what did it do with it?

The short answer: Disney got the servers and the software — everything but content — and launched Take180 the same month FanLib closed (August, 2008). But to understand the full story, such as why FanLib erased its fanfiction archive, you need background.

FanLib did not begin as a fanfiction archive. It was incorporated in 2003, when its founders developed proprietary crowdwriting software. They could have done all sorts of things with it; they elected to lease it for web-based marketing.

Between 2003-2007, FanLib was paid for conducting dozens of marketing campaigns, usually in the form of writing contests, which were hosted on FanLib's servers and used FanLib's software. IPs (intellectual property owners) could pay for a sub-domain, such as, with FanLib doing the heavy lifting.

FanLib's proprietary software allowed fans to submit content, vote on content, and talk about it. Content solicited from fans was extremely limited in scope, fill in the blank type stuff, hence the name FanLib, as in Mad Libs; it's a common misconception that lib stood for library, and referred to the fanfiction archive.

Read more... )

[identity profile]
Another news article 1 about FanLib partner Craig Singer's newest venture casually mentions FanLib has become Disney's Take180.

This is the second article 2 confirming Disney bought FanLib; I assume the information appears in a Disney financial report. Any Disney stockholders out there? The financial report may state the price paid for FanLib.

Take180 is visually ugly, and laden with "challenges" and prizes. It looks exactly the way you would expect FanLib to look after a quick re-do to serve Disney's interests. It is also riddled with the celebrity brown-nosing rampant at FanLib. The pitch (Be part of a creative community. Get in the spotlight. Prizes happen.) is nearly indistinguishable from Chris Williams's promotion of FanLib in July, 2007. 3

The men who owned FanLib (brothers Chris and David Williams) did not have the balls 4 to tell the 25,000 members of the sell-out. They have said nothing publicly on the subject (according to my daily news webcrawl since June, 2008). At the time of the closure, I speculated the only confirmation might be a FanLib-like product from Disney. 5 Now we have it. FanLib closed on August 4, 2008. 6 Take180 opened around August 29, 2008. 7

I had the lowest possible expectations of the Williams brothers, but even I didn't expect them to lie about matters of importance — not when the lies would inevitably be exposed. Apparently they thought lying was the better trade-off: better to lie and cowardly escape the reaction of fandom, even though they would be exposed later as liars.

Perhaps the FanLib founders feared their members would join Take180 and make a wreck of its forums, sullying its Disney purity. Perhaps they feared FanLib's failure 8 would foul Take180 before it was out of the dock. Or perhaps Disney publicists, reviewing the Williams brothers' track record 9 in communicating with fans, ordered them to be silent.

Five months have gone by since FanLib closed. Its members are scattered; articles about FanLib have dwindled. If nothing else, the lies bought time.

There's more. Craig Singer's current venture, the film Perkins' 14, came about this way:

"A year and a half ago, Singer was sorting through hundreds of one-paragraph ideas submitted through his Web site, FanLib [...]. The 10 fan finalists were then asked to create a 'video pitch' for their idea. It was a fan in North Carolina who came up with the premise of 'Perkins 14' [sic]— about a town that has suffered 14 child abductions, and the obsessed cop [...] who finds that the kids have been turned into zombified killing machines." 10

Craig Singer used a FanLib member's original idea to launch his new career? 11 I need a stronger stomach. Edit: Jeremy Donaldson's idea was submitted through in association with FanLib. 12

Another thing: numerous people in fandom (and outside of it) distrusted the Disney buyout rumor because it was farfetched Disney would believe a fanfiction website could be profitable (especially after FanLib's example). But Disney had no such foolish belief. Fanfiction appears at Take180 only as an interest in member profiles.

Take180 is built from FanLib's corpse, using a single limb added in October, 2007, vid hosting. 13 (Edit: Turns out this is literally true. Take180 URLs indicate it lives on FanLib's former servers.) Instead of the female dominated world of fanfiction, Take180 goes after amateur film makers — a fandom YouTube; you can imagine the corporate orgasm the concept would induce — presumably to gain the young male demographic FanLib slavered after. 14

Just one more thing. Confirmation of the Disney buyout means we must reconsider FanLib.

As a fanfiction archive and as a fandom community, FanLib was a disaster. 15 But as a money-making venture for a small group of wealthy white businessmen, it was a success: with $100 million 16 to spend on acquisitions, Disney probably paid quite a bit more for FanLib than its initial investment of $3 million in venture capital. 17

This is bad news for fandom; it will encourage future greedy and destructive corporate interference with fan creations.

Sources )

[identity profile]
Disney did buy FanLib, according to an acronym-studded online business presentation by Guy Bisson of Screen Digest, dated 10/31/2008.

If Disney bought FanLib, then what is it doing with it? Nothing... yet.

In May of this year, Disney chucked its huge Virtual Magic Kingdom, and announced it was doing a major online overhaul, investing up to $100 million. The rumor that Disney was purchasing FanLib started a month later.

This tallies with Rafat Ali's article in August (after FanLib announced it was closing) that "Disney will be completely retooling FanLib with a focus on its own properties, instead of fan fiction and other networks' TV shows and movies."

Guy Bisson's presentation, titled "Best Practices in times of TV 3.0," lists FanLib as a Disney asset on page 22.

If FanLib was sold to Disney, why didn't Chris or David Williams confirm it? Well, for one, because they didn't have to. FanLib was a private company. No explanation for FanLib's closure has been given to this date. Two: the sale to Disney, if true, was monumentally hypocritical and exploitive. Pretending to be the champions of fanfiction, the Williams brothers used the free labor of 25,000 members to make a profit for their venture capitalist investors. The men behind FanLib are still out there trying to make a buck off us; they need to avoid a reputation for ripping off fans. Uh, guys? It's too late.

A free Life Without FanLib T-shirt for the first person who spots a Disney crowdwriting venture. Not applicable to former employees of FanLib.

[identity profile]
Another short blurb, from Rafat Ali of, says Disney HAS bought FanLib for its crowdwriting software, the my2centences part of the business, dumping the flatlining fanfic archive.

He puts it this way: "Disney will be completely retooling FanLib with a focus on its own properties, instead of fan fiction and other networks’ TV shows and movies."

Ali does not seem to be aware that FanLib had two segments: the fanfic archive, and the crowdwriting software used for corporate marketing campaigns.

As soon as the Disney buyout rumor appeared in early June, FanLib members speculated in the forum that Disney would close the multi-fandom fanfic archive and focus on Disney's intellectual properties. It is a pretty obvious move, if the Disney buyout rumor is true.

Pirates of the Caribbean, a Disney property, was one of the largest fandoms at FanLib, based on the number of stories posted.

Rafat Ali has been the only source of the Disney rumor since the beginning -- every news article links back to him. As recently as a week ago, he reported the Disney deal might be off, so whoever is feeding him information can't be too close to the action.

The Mimbo brothers (Chris and David Williams) remain silent on the reason for FanLib's closure.

Disney has been buying up social networking websites (Club Penguin may be the largest) for years, and has rarely commented on its purchases. However, if the rumor is accurate, we can expect to see a Disney crowdwriting offering in the future. Since Disney already has a huge online presence, it could incorporate crowdwriting into an existing site.

Edit: Another reasonable hypothesis for FanLib's closure from [ profile] alicornmoon, dated July 25th: Disney was set to buy FanLib, but the deal fell through, prompting FanLib's venture capital backers to pull the plug.
[identity profile]
Los Angeles-based, an online site focused on "fan fiction"--fan created stories based on popular characters and movies--has shut down. According to a notice on FanLib's web site, the site will shut down on Monday, August 4th. No reason for the shutdown was given. Fanlib was backed by $3M in venture capital by H.I.G. Capital.'s Rafat Ali speculated in a story earlier today that a deal for Disney to purchase the site had fallen through; paidContent had reported a possible deal for the firm by Disney in June.

From SoCalTech. Also: story at
[identity profile]
With thanks to [ profile] mirabile_dictu:

Dear Friends, was founded on the belief that fan creativity is a true art form that deserves a first-rate showcase for cultivation and celebration. Over the course of the past fifteen months, you have triumphantly confirmed this notion with an astonishing display of talent, enthusiasm, imagination and camaraderie.

So, it is especially difficult to announce that will shut down on Monday, August 4, 2008.


Edit: Will there be lolcats?

Edit: There are rumors that Disney purchased FanLib, and is shutting down the fanfiction archive portion because it would be a "liability." I doubt the rumor -- if FanLib sold their business at a profit, they would be happy to publicize that fact. There is also no reason for Disney to keep quiet about it.

Edit: Because the "FanLib is shutting down" announcement briefly disappeared due to what seems to have been a coding fuck up, I'm putting the full text of the announcement here behind a cut. )

[identity profile]
I figured that if I posted this in the comments, it might get ignored. The post that said FanLib was bought by Disney is a rumor. They've posted about the rumor on their forums, here. Check it out.


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Life Without FanLib

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