Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is making her mark on the search company. On the heels of forming an alliance with Samsung to deliver interactive TV, Yahoo has acquired a video chat startup known as OnTheAir.
You might compare OnTheAir to Google+ Hangouts with a Skype twist. But rather than a handful of friends chatting, the software lets organizers host their own talk show and broadcast it to the Internet masses. With this model, there is a host and guests -- and audience members can request to come on the show live.
But Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, told us Yahoo's intention may not be to grow a service that rivals Google+ Hangouts or Skype. Mayer may have something else in mind with the technology and the team behind it.
"This appears to be mostly a talent acquisition to add to the mobile team," Sterling said. "However, Yahoo may preserve and still do something with the platform they created."
Beefing Up Mobile
Yahoo has confirmed the acquisition but did not announce its plans for OnTheAir. The OnTheAir team, though, posted on a blog about the deal. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
"When we started OnTheAir, we had dreams of building a company that made a difference in the daily lives of millions. Our pursuit was challenging: We put in late nights together. We debated intensely. We worked like crazy to build a product we were proud to put our name on," wrote the OnTheAir team, which includes Abel Allison, Daniel Hopkins, Erik Goldman, Josh Schwarzapel and Mike Kerzhner.
Despite the challenges, the crew said experience has been a rewarding one. They specifically mentioned being coached by "some of the brightest investors and advisers in technology. Those advisers and investors include Scott Banister of IronPort Systems, Ben Narasin of Triple Point Ventures, Social Leverage, and True Ventures.
Yahoo also expanded its multi-year partnership to integrate its Broadcast Interactivity platform into Samsung 2012 Smart TVs. The technology will be deployed in Samsung's SyncPlus platform.
That means Samsung Smart TV owners will receive real-time, actionable content that runs alongside TV shows and commercials. TV viewers will see on-screen prompts informing them that additional content can be accessed. By using a remote, connected tablet or phone, viewers can retrieve content or offers related to the TV shows and commercials they are watching.
The partnership creates new forms of advertising by extending traditional 30-second commercials into immediate actions. With broadcast interactivity-enabled commercials, advertisers can embed calls-to-action for downloading apps or digital media, providing coupons, ordering samples, reading reviews or viewing product information.
"By combining watching TV with engaging content, we can change the way audiences are entertained and informed," said Ron Jacoby, vice president of Connected TV at Yahoo. "Content owners can augment their programming, and advertisers can create compelling calls-to-action that allow audiences to engage on marketing messages the moment they are delivered."