GM Legend Lee Iacocca Joins Local E-tail Firm
All the recent hubbub about Internet music has many digital media firms scrambling to find a solution to protecting copyrighted content.
One San Diego firm is helping solve the problem. Verance Corp.’s watermarking technology has been chosen for the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), which has developed an architecture and specifications for playing, storing and distributing digital music online.
Watermarking is a technique that embeds digital information into audio or video content. One of the purposes for watermarking is to track usage of content.
“We’re a technology company. We’re always looking for interesting topics. Internet music is a hot topic and we’re going to try to captivate that,” Verance CEO Bob Warren said.
“A lot of people argue that they don’t have to comply with SDMI. But if you look at a lot of lawsuits, they’re not piracy issues as much as they are copyright law issues. SDMI just gives the content providers a choice.”
Warren did say, however, there is a sense of urgency in using watermarking technology to protect copyrighted music and content.
“The issues and concerns over Internet music are fear of the unknown,” he said. “Nobody can predict what’s going to happen.
“As much excitement as there is about Internet music, it’s still in its embryonic stage. Everybody is trying to figure out the best business model.”
Verance isn’t just setting its sights on securing Internet music. The firm’s technology can be used for copy management of DVD audio, and for monitoring the usage of copyrighted content, such as broadcast monitoring.
Verance was born last year out of the merger of San Diego-based Solana Technology Development Corp. and ARIS Technologies, Inc. of Cambridge, Mass.
Last year ARIS did a demo of its watermarking/tracking technology with NBC Sports, while Solana did a demo with ABC. Solana Technology also teamed up last year with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers to develop a system to encode and encode watermarks on music works.
Verance Corp., which already has 11 patents and 13 more pending, is also developing wireless technology.
Verance’s strategic partner is 4C, which is made up of IBM Corp., Intel, Toshiba and Matsushita. Companies like Sony Corp. and RioPort, Inc., a digital audio company, license Verance’s technology.
The United States is the biggest market for Verance, but the company is talking with potential partners in Europe and Asia, Warren said.
Besides collecting a handful of powerful strategic partners, Verance has also built a strong board of directors , Leap Wireless CEO Harvey White; Dick Rifenburgh, a retired high-tech senior executive; Greg Wertheimer, founder of ARIS; and John Eger, director of the SDSU International Center for Communications and a Lionel Van Deerlin professor of communications and public policy at the university.
Eger said an initial public offering is the most logical vehicle for Verance to be a global player.
“The directors are very excited about the prospects of this company being a dominant player in this space,” he said. “There’s been a lot of interest by Wall Street and most of the major financial institutions in the country.”
In case you’re curious about Verance’s name, it’s the tail end of the word, “perseverance.”
“Also, all the domain names are available,” Warren added, laughing.
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Heavy Metal: One of San Diego’s newest E-tailers is getting a little help from auto industry legend Lee Iacocca. The former Chrysler CEO is now a board member and lead pitchman for San Diego-based Online Asset Exchange. The company, which launched earlier this month, specializes in selling pre-owned heavy industrial equipment , such as a used pile driver or a secondhand surface grinder , over the Internet.
The virtual warehouse includes more than 200,000 assets, valued at more than $7 billion.
The global market potential for Online Asset Exchange is enormous, Iacocca said.
“There’s over a trillion-dollar market in used corporate assets waiting to be tapped,” he said. “The Online Asset Exchange, by connecting dealers and end-users, will be what Nasdaq is to Wall Street.”
As part of his role in promoting Online Asset Exchange, Iacocca will appear on Webcasts and business television talk shows on behalf of the company.
Bits & Bytes: Cardiff Software has acquired AudienceOne, Inc. AudienceOne, a spinoff of Adobe Systems, Inc., supplies products that enable companies to create and deliver high-quality, personalized documents over the Web through print-on-demand systems. TeraGlobal Communications Corp. is going European. The San Diego company, which specializes in voice, video and data convergence, has introduced its TeraMedia communication service in London, Brussels, Paris, Geneva and Zurich. San Diego-based Quake Wireless, Inc. , a manufacturer of subscriber communications for the Orbcomm Global, L.P. low-Earth-orbit satellite network , has announced a partnership with Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co., Ltd. Under the deal, Samsung will manufacture Quake’s satellite communications products that enable companies to track, monitor and provide two-way data communications capabilities between fixed and mobile assets worldwide.
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