Petfinder may have found its forever home.
The animal-adoption site is being purchased for undisclosed terms by $11.5 billion global pet-products manufacturer Nestlé Purina, which plans to amp it up as a content-marketing play (think BabyCenter for pet owners). The deal, to be finalized in July, is Nestlé's first digital-platform acquisition.
"This is an interesting acquisition for Nestlé as a whole, mainly because it shows, above and beyond providing products, that experiences and utility are important," said Michael Kotick, brand manager for Purina. "That's something that, starting with this acquisition, would be an interesting place for Nestlé to explore."
Since its founding in 1996, Petfinder -- owned by Animal Planet parent Discovery Communications -- has aided in more than 22 million adoptions. Petfinder's humanitarian values align with Purina's, Mr. Kotick said, which made Petfinder attractive to a company that invests $30 million annually in pet welfare.
Purina has no immediate plans to alter Petfinder's platform. "First and foremost, I think we're going to sit back and watch it work," said Mr. Kotick.
Over time, Purina plans to integrate different programs into Petfinder's ecosystem. Potential enhancements include location-based services, nutritional expertise and heightened socialization.
Mr. Kotick acknowledged a comparison between Petfinder and BabyCenter. "There is always that potential with Petfinder to celebrate and add value to a pet owner's life with their pet through the excellent resources and Purina's knowledge that can be incorporated into the Petfinder platform," he said. "That's one of the things that BabyCenter does incredibly well."
BabyCenter, owned by Johnson & Johnson, was first a parenting resource and an e-commerce site. But in 2009 it became a pure-play media and community site taking ads from retailers.