Video search startup Blinkx is going to IPO on the London Stock Exchange, after going through a complicated merger with the consumer division of Autonomy (AU) from which Blinkx sprang. Blinkx is powered by Autonomy's search technology and CEO Suranga Chandratillake is Autonomy's former chief technology officer. Video search is becoming increasingly important, and Blinkx does a good job finding relevant hits from the more than seven million videos on the Web currently in its index.
Chandratillake attended my Disruptors roundtable in LA last week, and it was clear to me that he was gunning for Google on the video front. While Google only searches videos that have been uploaded to Google Video or YouTube, Blinkx searches videos across the entire Web. It uses speech-to-text software to convert the audio into searchable text, looks at any descriptions or other metadata associated with each video, calculates the popularity of each video, and is even working on incorporating scene- and facial-recognition techniques as well.
By separating out its consumer business, and merging it with Blinkx, Autonomy clearly hopes to get some value out of what was up till now a hidden set of assets (most of its revenues come from enterprise search). Today, Blinkx makes money from licensing its video search platform to other Websites like Lycos and Viacom's AddictingClips.com rather than from its own video search engine. Butt that could change if it becomes more popular and starts showing sponsored video ads in its results just like Google does with paid text ads. Comparing Blinkx to Google Video, Chandratillake once told me:
I think what Google sees with video is the ability to be an actual destination. They have not actually attracted that many commercial providers yet. The majority of commercial guys are putting it on their own sites. Which is why video search is important. ABC won’t put Desperate Housewives on Google Video, but you may use Google to find it.
Actually, today you are better off using Blinkx. The startup, however, is not alone in trying to crack the video search problem. AOL (which, like Business 2.0, is owned by Time Warner) bought video search engine Truveo, and Podzinger does a pretty impressive job with speech-to-text and categorization of video also (it actually shows you a transcript with every search that is 60 to 90 percent accurate, whereas Blinkx does not surface that information). Then there are more social approaches to video search like Dabble.
Video search is potentially a huge market because whoever figures out how to do it on the Web could one day be powering video search on your TV as well. If Blinkx's IPO is successful, it could set off a wave of video search IPOs.