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Changing business models seems to be a rite of passage for many companies. Last year, Mike Sheehan, CEO of Booyah Networks, the Colorado-based advertising company that worked with me to develop Vator.tv's first prototype, thought that the online business to be in was to create video channels for publishers. Hence, he offered to create Vator.tv for me, in exchange for a share of future advertising revenue. He had several video channels lined up, including a sports channel. Given that crowded field, he dropped that business as quickly as he got into it, opting instead to focus on SpotXchange, a video advertising network. Over the course of the last year, I’ve seen a number of companies make business model changes. DAVE.tv started out with a model to bring Internet video to the television set by selling set-top boxes. It’s similar to that of the Akimbo model. But according to DAVE.tv CEO Rex Wong, hardware was a tough sell. DAVE.tv has been, for the last year, providing white-label social networking solutions for big media companies.
In like vein, the plethora of video-search sites and niche video/audio destination sites on the Web has made drawing an audience a tough sell, prompting some to make a change.
On Monday, PodZinger is set to announce that after one year as a destination site, it’s re-branding itself. PodZinger will now be called EveryZing – a B2B, white-lable solutions provider to media companies seeking to have their massive library of video searchable. PodZinger started as a destination site for podcasts back in September 2005, when it was incubated inside BBN Technologies, which takes government technologies and creates commercial applications. EveryZing also brought in a new CEO, Tom Wilde to lead the charge. (Check out Tom's Vator.tv profile) Wilde says that EveryZing already has some key media customers, such as CBS Radio, Boston.com and Factiva, a unit of Dow Jones. The economic model is a revenue share.
No doubt this type of technology is invaluable as engineers strive to allow users to find the most relevant video, and not just any video. Clearly, we're at a point when watching video online has become an intriguing, amusing and entertaining experience. Eight years ago, when I started doing videos that were streamed on the Web, it was painful for me to watch the 15 frames per second and the endless buffering. Today, it's less painful and certainly bearable. Today, consumers don't just want bearable video. They want organized video. Heretofore, it's been about making video available and easy to watch. Tomorrow, it'll be about making it easy for people to find what they want amid the explosion of video content going online.
PodZinger’s solution is to use speech-to-text technology so consumers can search inside the video. Now, search solutions for the enterprise is a pretty crowded field itself. Enterprise search companies aren’t exactly the big winners on the Web either, if Autonomy’s $1.4 billion market valuation is any indication. While it’s a respectable valuation, it hardly compares to the Internet giants.
Among the companies providing “search-inside-the-video” technology include GoTuit, Nexidia, and Pluggd. GoTuit uses human tagging; Nexidia uses phonetics and Pluggd uses its own semantic technology on top of speech-to-text. I’ve had a demo of all the products. They’re all pretty good, it’s hard to discern which is better, though admittedly I do like the fact that EveryZing provides the transcripts as another piece of content to provide the viewer. To that end, Vator.tv chose to work with EveryZing for a trial period. Who wins out of this pack is anyone's guess. But if history is any guide, changing business models is at times the right decision to make, staying the course is probably better.
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