Microsoft to improve Xbox Live media search through VideoSurf acquisition

VideoSurf logo

Microsoft has announced that it has inked a deal to acquire video searching startup VideoSurf in a bid to improve searching for entertainment content across its Xbox Live platform. By integrating VideoSurf’s technology, users will be able to search for a term (say, “Spider-Man”) and pull up unified results across games, the Zune marketplace, TV and film entertainment, and potentially even entertainment content from third-party providers like Netflix, Hulu, or Comcast.

“VideoSurf’s content analytics technology will enhance the search and discovery of entertainment content across our platform,” said the director for Xbox Live’s interactive entertainment business Alex Garden, in a statement. “This holiday we will launch voice search across our entertainment partners on Xbox LIVE. Over time, as we integrate VideoSurf’s technology into our system, we are excited about the potential to have content tagged in real time to increase the speed and relevance of the search results.”

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed; industry sources put the value of the deal in the $75 million range, but TechCrunch reports the acquisition totalled up to $100 million in cash.

VideoSurf’s technology does more than peer inside videos, assemble key frames, and associate tags with them: it also uses audio and facial recognition technology to automatically tag video content, so searching for “Alec Baldwin” won’t just turn up hits where the actor is in the cast of a production, but will also turn up interviews or just places he’s mentioned without being specifically credited. Microsoft hopes the technology will enable the company to offer a comprehensive, searchable overview of video content—a service that will become increasingly important as Microsoft lines up more and more large-scale and independent content providers for XBox Live. Microsoft says it’s adding more than 40 “world-leading” TV and entertainment providers to Xbox Live in the “coming months.”

VideoSurf was founded by four Israeli entrepreneurs, and backed by a notable tema of investors, including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (and her husband David Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMOnkey), along with former Vice President (and current Apple board member) Al Gore.