Light Reading

Rovi Snaps Up Veveo

Mari Silbey

Looking to expand its reach in the growing video search and recommendation market, Rovi has swung a deal to buy Veveo, a firm specializing in voice-based search technologies.

The deal was announced after the stock market closed Monday. Rovi Corp. would pay $62 million up front in cash for Veveo Inc. . Rovi says that there is also up to $7 million more on the table for the semantic technology company if it reaches certain sales targets in the future. Rovi plans to retain all of Veveo's roughly 60 employees.

Veveo develops natural language user interfaces. Its customers and partners include numerous Tier 1 service providers in North America. The company deployed its technology with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s FiOS as far back as 2007. Veveo works with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), and Verizon, among others.

Veveo chief marketing officer Samrat Vasisht told Light Reading last summer that his company had hundreds of trials of its speech-related solutions under way. He called the technology as "Siri for your TV," referring to Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s famous voice recognition software. (See Pay TV Still Searching for UI Gold.)

Veveo chief product officer Daren Gill confirmed Monday that Veveo continues to focus on search and recommendation solutions that "understand what the user wants" and even help predict users' queries. "Voice is an important part of the future."

Rovi executive vice president John Moakley told us that Veveo's technology is complementary to his company's in-house metadata and analytics solutions. When asked why Veveo was a compelling acquisition target, he said it offered more benefits than any of its counterparts. "From our perspective, when you look in the entertainment space, and you look at what they've done with the knowledge graph that they have, and the technology they have… we didn't see [another company] that had that level of sophistication that was specifically tailored to entertainment."

The two companies expect to begin demonstrating their integrated solutions by the time the NCTA Cable Show rolls around at the end of April in Los Angeles.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
2/28/2014 | 11:03:31 AM
Kudos to Rovi
Kudos to Rovi for its understanding of the importance of search & discovery in the red-hot smart TV space. But truth be told, voice recognition a la Veveo will only get Rovi so far. To truly dominate, a more ecumenical approach to input is required, and a keener understanding of consumer behavior is paramount.  Rovi should make more of its streamlined remote control, and consumer affinity for this input device acquired from decades of conditioning. All that needs to go is the tortuous onscreen keyboard, and siloed searching across multiple channels. You are close, Rovi. Now step up your search & discovery game with Kannuu: -- Kannuu demo video:
User Rank: Blogger
2/26/2014 | 10:37:39 PM
Re: Voice-based search
I agree, IVR is certainly not a good role model, and voice-driven search or anything similar is going to really nail its landing in terms of performance and quality to be useful.
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/26/2014 | 9:05:03 AM
Re: Voice-based search
The voice-based search will need to work better than many voice-based IVR systems I've used. The voice-based IVR systems are often like dealing with "Peggy" of the old Discover commercials. I usually just keep defaulting until I get a live person or, if given the option, opt for a entry-based system. Both are often faster than voice-based.
User Rank: Blogger
2/24/2014 | 9:34:51 PM
Re: Voice-based search
Does this mean Siri can't change channels for you? Surprised Apple hasn't thought about that already.
User Rank: Blogger
2/24/2014 | 6:27:38 PM
Voice-based search
the voice-based search and recommendation market is an intriguing one. I'll bet lots of people will start talking to their TV remotes in all sorts of ways. They may even make a movie about this relationahip someday.   
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