We've toyed with the idea in recent years that Cisco Systems Inc. should just go ahead and buy ActiveVideo Networks Inc., the cloud TV specialist that is supplying Cisco with technology that helps its multi-screen Videoscape platform deliver apps and services to older, non-IP set-tops. After all, ActiveVideo would offer a good strategic fit and a decent customer base. (See Cisco & ActiveVideo Go Steady.)
The relationship between the two hasn't reached M&A territory yet, but ActiveVideo announced Thursday that it has hired one of Cisco's former top marketing execs, Murali Nemani, who most recently was handling Cisco's mobile Internet portfolio and, before that, was leading the charge for Videoscape.
At ActiveVideo, Nemani, who is also late of Alcatel-Lucent, will serve as senior vice president and chief marketing officer. And he's already in action: Nemani was busy handing out his new business card at this week's Cable Congress 2013 event in London.
As ActiveVideo describes it, Nemani will be responsible for "positioning ActiveVideo's CloudTV platform as the pivotal technology that can unify the development and delivery of consistent television experiences in a fragmented, multi-screen environment."
To me, it also means that he's coming on board to help ActiveVideo move the needle again. The company, which recently struck a handsome settlement with Verizon Communications Inc. over interactive TV patent rights, claims to have its technology on more than 10 million devices courtesy of deals with the likes of Cablevision Systems Corp., Ziggo B.V., Time Warner Cable Inc., as well as a small trial with Comcast Corp. It's also got a deal to run on Philips-branded NetTVs and secured a deal with with Motorola Mobility LLC's Home division. ActiveVideo has also hooked up with Net2TV, a "virtual" service provider in the making that bears watching. (See Patent Power, Verizon & ActiveVideo Call a Cease Fire and Moto Preps its Cloud-Based UI for the Masses.)
ActiveVideo's got a nice base of marquee customers, but where's the next growth spurt going to come from? It's been stuck on that 10 million device number for quite a while.
There's no doubt that Nemani is joining ActiveVideo at an opportune time. Pay-TV operators are moving to cloud-based guides and IP-capable devices, and they will also be eager to find ways to deliver these more graphically-rich user interfaces to millions of QAM-only set-tops.
But will that opportunity take the form of rapid growth or a suitor that's willing to pay a premium for those capabilities? Expect that question to be answered during the next year or so.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable