Blog Post

SonicMountain’s Odeo Plans Include Video

Yesterday the news broke that podcasting community Odeo was purchased by little-known SonicMountain, a New York-based startup, for “a little over $1 million” according to TechCrunch. Since then, I had a chance to chat with SonicMountain president Rick Arturo about his company’s plans for the startup, which include providing tools for not just audio but — naturally — video podcasting as well.

SonicMountain LogoArturo and SonicMountain CEO Jack Roken told NewTeeVee they are trying to improve on available podcast search and discovery tools. “We’re just a couple of users who didn’t like what was out there,” said Arturo. To that end, they’ve been working on new search technology, and when they saw Odeo up for sale, jumped on the opportunity.

SonicMountain is working on adding video next, either through a partner agreement with a video technology provider or even another acquisition, according to Arturo, who said to expect video functionality in as soon as one to two months. The grand plan is build a site for the community of podcasters and users, with meta-search, feed crawling, and real-time updates as planned features, and non-intrusive advertising to support them.

Arturo and Roken bring to the table their own patent-pending search, which they say features a crawl that indexes not just text data but embedded metadata, such as the ID3 tags in MP3 files. They’ve also built a content hosting platform from the ground up, and are testing content delivery networks such as Amazon to serve files to users.

Odeo’s founder Evan Williams has admitted that he made mistakes developing Odeo, primarily that he built a product “for other people” — not as something he intended to use himself. However, he hasn’t abandoned the product, and will be sticking around to advise the SonicMountain team for six months.

Williams assured that part of the deal was “the commitment by SonicMountain to retain the integrity and spirit of the Odeo community” according to the announcement.

It’s a fairly small transaction, but SonicMountain has big plans. The acquisition of Odeo gives them an instant community to test their new tools and services on, not to mention some Silicon Valley name recognition.

11 Responses to “SonicMountain’s Odeo Plans Include Video”

  1. Ben Simon

    This is all bs. The Amergence Group, previously known as SunnComm International, is broke and were just last month evicted from their offices in Phoenix owing $157,524 in rent (at least that was the amount awarded to the building owner, Cofco, by the court).

    They have been notorious stock scammers, with the IR person previously sanctioned by the SEC. They have issued many misleading and downright fraudulent press releases, whoch you can find in the links to the p2pnet and The Register articles listed below in the comments from another board.

    SunnComm blames much of its demise (the SP was down to 0.001 prior to the current pump, which this PR is part of) to its inability to obtain finance, yet it now purports to be a company that can provide and obtain finance for small startups. The reason no one would finance SunnComm was because the most basic DD showed them to be a scam.

    Here is some stuff on SunnComm and SonicMountain from comments on another site:

    comment number 1 by: Ben Simon
    June 11th, 2007 at 11:10 pm
    This comment is awaiting moderation.

    This is really weird. The Amergence Group, previously SunnComm International, has acquired SonicMountain and will be providing capital and resources to enhance the business! It was only last month that SunnComm were evicted from their premises in Phoenix for non-payment of rent. They have been unable to pay the fine imposed by the court in that case:

    Before Christmas 2004, they lost a contract dispute with their software developer BTEK (from Phoenix) and were fined over $600K. BTEK have filed several writs of garnishment to try and get the money owed from that decision, but to date have been unsuccessful.

    When SunnComm were evicted last month and had to move to smaller premises in Scottsdale, they left all their technical staff go. Apart from president, Peter Jacobs, and a secretary, all that is really left is an IR consultant, Mario Iacoviello, who was previously sanctioned by the SEC on fraud charges:

    This article on p2pnet, gives a brilliant exposee on SunnComm:

    Why on earth are SonicMountain getting into bed with them.

    info Says:
    June 13th, 2007 at 7:09 am
    Ben – do you think they’re using Odeo’s podcasting cred to try and give themselves some legitimacy?

    Guy from Wantagh Says:
    June 13th, 2007 at 8:28 am
    Why do you assume SonicMountain is any better than SunnComm? Read the history of SiVault Systems. The president of Sonic Mountain (Richard Arturo) was the VP of Sales at SiVault. Sonic Mountain and SiVault appear to share the same New York City office space (500 Fifth Ave, suite 1650). SiVault seems to have spent much of its history buying up other companies and making press releases (much like SunnComm). The purpose (it seems to many) is simply to drive up the price of the their shares.

    For the full story on SunnComm, you should read

    The best info I’ve found on SiVault is
    One of my favorite lines in the Sivault SEC filing:

    We incurred a net loss of $23,900,354 during the fiscal year ended June 30, 2005 and $3,406,660 during the prior fiscal year. At June 30, 2005, we had an accumulated deficit of $42,112,412. Our auditors have issued a qualification in their report on our financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2005, reflecting their concern about our ability to continue as a going concern for the current fiscal year. We expect to make significant expenditures in connection with the implementation of our new business strategy, including expenditures relating to sales and marketing activities, technology development and integration, potential acquisitions and administrative resources. As a result, we expect our losses to continue for the foreseeable future and we may never achieve profitability.

    Now, I don’t know that SonicMountain and SiVault share anything but one executive and an office. But I don’t know why everyone assumes that Sonic Mountain is a hero.

    info Says:
    June 13th, 2007 at 4:42 pm
    Guy from Wantagh

    Not sure where you got the idea that anybody thinks “SonicMountain is a hero”.

    For podcasters, the bigger picture may be that what was once the most promising podcasting community is now changing owners monthly.

    Guy from Wantagh Says:
    June 13th, 2007 at 6:06 pm
    Oh, I didn’t mean the folks on this thread said they were heroes. I guess I was just disappointed that all of the press and blog coverage I saw looked at Sonic Mountain in an unquestioning way. Nobody really bothered to look into who these guys are and what they are really bringing to the table. Also, many of the comments on various blogs seemed oh-so-optimistic about the future of Sonic Mountain and Odeo.

    One interview at had the quotes about “their own patent-pending search” and “SonicMountain has big plans. The acquisition of Odeo gives them an instant community to test their new tools and services on”. Which just seemed out of touch.

    Accepting all their announced claims at face value drove me nuts. Especially, because at the time of the original announcement, Sonic Mountain’s mail address was a PO box at a UPS Store in Suburban Long Island (in Wantagh NY, just across the street from the Dunkin Donuts near the train station). Believe me, I’m the “Guy from Wantagh”. It is a great place to live, but you won’t easily find venture capital or Web 2.0 talent in a bedroom community that is the “Gateway to Jones Beach”. In Wantagh, Ajax is still the cleaning powder. See it still says that their address is 3280 Sunrise Highway, Suite 74, Wantagh, NY 11793.

    See for yourself:

    3280 Sunrise Highway, Suite 74, Wantagh, NY 11793

  2. Guy from Wantagh

    Where is the money coming from? I don’t know, but it is interesting to look at Mr. Arturo’s past efforts. He was VP of Sales at SiVault. SiVault has the same NYC address as Sonic Mountain. (are they really the same company???)

    Here is a pretty thorough SEC filing about SiVault:

    It looks like Mr. Arturo’s past company didn’t really make any money. They just sold stock and took on debt.

    Perhaps our intrepid reporter should do some background checking and ask some tough questions….

  3. reggie dunlop

    did they mention who was bankrolling all this?

    1MM for odeo + staff salaries and still talking about another acquision in the coming months?

    that’s quite a war chest for a 6 month old company!