Startups

With Its $100M Acquisition Of VideoSurf, Microsoft’s Video Search Now Has Big Potential

Comment

Yesterday morning, we reported that Microsoft had acquired Israeli video startup, VideoSurf, for approximately $70 million. The deal indeed has been greenlighted, as Microsoft confirmed in its blog post yesterday. However, at the time, the price of the acquisition was unclear; several sources (who wished to remain anonymous) pegged the number at $70 million. But, today we’ve heard from a solid source that the actual price of the acquisition was actually just under $100 million — in cash.

Sure, it’s not quite the $8.5 billion Microsoft paid for popular voice and video-over-IP service, Skype, but for a relatively young startup, this is a big win. As to its backstory, VideoSurf was founded by four Israeli entrepreneurs, Eitan Sharon, Lior Delgo, Shai Deljo, and Achi Brandt in 2006, and the San Mateo-based startup has since raised $28 million from a bunch of notable investors, which include Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and her husband, SurveyMonkey CEO David Goldberg, along with Al Gore and Current Media CEO Joel Hyatt (as well as a few others, like Pitango VC and Verizon Ventures.)

Why did Microsoft make this acquisition? Well, just as Microsoft plans to integrate Skype into Xbox Live and VideoKinect for Xbox Live to allow gamers to Skype from their consoles, the tech giant plans to add VideoSurf’s technology into the Xbox 360 ecosystem (specifically Xbox Live) as well. Microsoft will be rolling out voice search over the holiday season and is currently in the process of integrating content from video and cable providers (like Verizon, Comcast, HBO and Epix, for example) into Xbox Live.

Microsoft is also adding a search layer over the platform to let users search for content from apps and beyond, so that one searching for Lord Of The Rings might get results from Netflix, or Comcast’s library, or apps from its Zune Marketplace. Because VideoSurf’s platform is all about video discovery and allowing users to quickly find video content from a wide range of websites (like Hulu, Dailymotion, Metacafe, etc.), this will amp up Xbox Live’s search criteria, which, at this point, just relies on metadata offered up by the content provider.

Not only that, but VideoSurf also implements some cool audio recognition technology along with facial recognition functionality that allows the startup to pull from specific frames within videos, which, when combined, the company (and Microsoft clearly agrees) can provide better search results (and relevancy) coupled with an enhanced user experience.

This is also a smart move play by Microsoft when looking at its future ambitions for both Xbox Live and search on the whole. As Xbox Live adds content from other independent video providers, VideoSurf’s multifaceted search technology can provide a much-improved means of parsing video content from these indie providers that typically don’t have the same amount of data tied to their videos as the larger, premium content providers. If and when Microsoft adds YouTube to Xbox Live, they will need an enhanced search mechanism to serve refined results from the some-billion-odd videos YouTube counts in its bullpen.

Microsoft could also leverage VideoSurf technology for Bing’s video search, making search a less-painful experience across its devices. Considering the startup’s technology will allow Kinect users to search and discover content across multiple entertainment providers within Xbox Live and use Kinect’s voice search powered by Bing, you can see the sizable value proposition inherent in this acquisition. This could allow Microsoft, via Kinect’s unique interface, to offer rich web-based search through TV — potentially leaping over Google based on its current efforts to do the same with Google TV.

It will be interesting to see how the Xbox ecosystem improves with Skype and VideoSurf integration, but the future is definitely looking somewhat bright — something that’s not always said in when referring to the tech old timer.

For more, check out Microsoft’s press release here, and VideoSurf at home here.

More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

13 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

15 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android