Recognizing Video, Realizing Opportunity

Mark Stirling (serial entrepreneur and all around good guy) pointed me to a New York Times article discussing the state of digital video fingerprinting – the practice of identifying copyright videos.

It focuses on Audible Magic but also discusses other companies vying to fill the need of content owners to identify and stop unlicensed online video, including Guba with their Johnny product.

Digital video filtering and recognition is considered by many to be the holy grail of 2007, and many start-ups are focused on getting it right.  As the article suggests, it’s by no means trivial and whoever has a launch-ready solution will have an easy time getting the attention of the big guys; keeping it depends on the quality of the solution.

The article also contains a couple of lessons for entrepreneurs:

1. Don’t be afraid to switch direction when it makes sense

Audible Magic started with the goal on audio recognition. They changed direction after realizing the opportunity in video and also being able to execute on the opportunity.

2. Look to innovate of the innovation

Everyone wants to be the digital video recognition company and most are focused on presenting their solution to online video properties.  I like Attributor‘s approach of scouring the web and finding copywritten video.  It adds something more than the others. If they get the digital recognition portion right then it sounds like a great venture. They’ve already raised a Series B round bringing their total funds raised to $10M, and have the management pedigree – the company was founded by Jim Brock (former SVP of Yahoo), and Jim Pitkow (former CEO of Moreover). Definitely a company to watch.

2006 was a banner year for online video. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens now that the honeymoon phase is over.  With the recent troubles at YouTube, 2007 is off to an interesting start!