Content identification specialist Vobile has acquired Los Angeles-based video analytics startup Blayze to better target YouTube networks and other publishers interested in making more money with the Google-owned video site. Blayze’s two co-founders are joining Vobile and are tasked with establishing a new Los Angeles office.
The acquisition was part cash, part stock, and Vobile CEO Yangbin Wang said during an interview Wednesday that the total value of the deal could reach eight figures, depending on certain benchmarks, but declined to offer further details.
For Vobile, the deal represents an interesting opportunity to take a business it has been building for close to ten years to a new generation of publishers. Vobile started out as one of many content recognition and rights management companies, and for a while was best known for its automated content recognition and filtering technology that’s been used by adult video websites as well as major media companies to find and flag unlicensed content.
Initially, Vobile competed with a number of other players, many of which employed students to scour sites, flag uploads and issue takedown notices. Vobile instead chose to automate content recognition through audio and video fingerprinting. This helped Vobile to stay around and adapt to a changing business while others had to give up.
Fast forward to 2014, and a new crop of content identification and management companies is popping up, promising multi-channel networks and other publishers on YouTube to help them track and monetize their content on the site. And again, some are employing hordes of students as “claim managers.” It’s déjà vu for Wang, who still thinks that content identification should be left to machines.
That’s why he decided to acquire Blayze, whose co-founder Ben Smith was at Google when the company acquired YouTube and subsequently became YouTube’s first employee in Los Angeles. Smith developed relationships with major movie studios and broadcasters for YouTube, and now wants to bring YouTube business to Vobile.
Wang told me that Smith and his co-founder won’t be on their own for long in Los Angeles. The company is actively hiring to grow its team in the entertainment capital, and recently raised a $9 million Series C to finance its expansion. Wang said that the company now has close to 250 employees, and that it has been profitable “for quite a while.”