Daily Archives: December 12, 2007

Richard Waters

Classmates_logo All the discussion about whether or not internet financing is in the middle of another bubble period tends to miss one very important point. Wall Street has not shown much sign of internet excess yet – and with the stock market swinging wildly this week, public market investors are showing no inclination to jump in.

A case in point on Wednesday: the withdrawl of an IPO for social networking company Classmates Media. This is a company assembled through a series of acquisitions over the last three years by United Online. Having welded together social networking site Classmates, online loyalty marketing company MyPoints and a couple of other ventures for a total of $200m, UOL hoped to turn around and sell a small slice of the venture to the public, netting more than $100m in cash and putting a heady valuation on the unit of some $720m. 

Richard Waters

Trainwreck It must have seemed a good idea at the time. Combine a company that produces an electronic programming guide with one that makes content protection technology, and you get an outfit that is perfectly positioned to help media companies navigate the challenging waters of internet-delivered TV. That is, if you don’t end up with a trainwreck first.

Macrovision’s proposed $2.8bn  purchase of Gemstar-TV Guide may survive the elevator pitch test, but it looks monumentally difficult to make work. For a start, Gemstar will be a very big and complicated dish to swallow. Some 55 per cent of its revenues don’t even come from electronic programming guides, but from the TV Guide magazine and cable channels. Unpicking the pieces, selling off unwanted assets and paying down debt may eventually leave the smaller Macrovision in a position to digest what’s left, but Gemstar has been a playground for intellectual property litigators for so long that it’s hard to imagine this turning out clean and simple. 

Speaking of 3D, three-dimensional holograms could soon take the place of two-dimensional images in teleconferencing, according to Cisco Systems. "We may be in a room where if I walk around behind you I can see the back of your head," said Marthin de Beer, head of Cisco’s emerging technologies group, at the networking company’s annual analyst meeting at the Fairmont hotel in San Jose on Tuesday. "I won’t be able to shake your hand but it will be a 3D rendering."

The new hologram technology is the result of a collaboration between Cisco and Musion, a UK-based company specialising in 3D projection. John Chambers, Cisco’s CEO, and a holographic Mr de Beer demonstrated the technology before a rapt audience last month in Bangalore. You can see the YouTube video here:  

Chris Nuttall

3d_zcam While 3D is being adopted by the movie industry as the technology that will put more bums on cinema seats, a new 3D camera being unveiled this week is designed to get people out of their chairs.

The ZCam, developed by the Israeli company 3DV Systems, represents a big advance on the motion-sensing technology currently being used to play video games by gestures rather than punching a controller.