Rumor Mill Swirls: Google-Brightcove Tie-Up

Well, this is just about the most lightly sourced thing we would ever post on, but according to a Tweet by Mark Glaser at PBS’ MediaShift, Google could be in talks to acquire Brightcove for $500 to $700 million. We’re looking into it.

Brightcove’s official comment: “Brightcove doesn’t comment on rumors.”

Cambridge, Mass.-based Brightcove is the brand name in the video platform business. It has raised $90 million in funding from investors including Accel Partners, General Catalyst Partners, AOL, Allen & Company, Maverick Capital, Brookside Capital, AllianceBernstein, The New York Times Company, Transcosmos, Dentsu, J-Stream and Cyber Communications. It says it is profitable.

Dan Rayburn is already doing good deal analysis here.

Another AOL Org Chart Shuffle: COO Partoll, Search Boss Kannapell Out

kim partollThis isn’t the long-rumored round of mass layoffs, but AOL boss Tim Armstrong did let go of two executives today: COO Kim Partoll is out, as is John Kannapell, SVP of search and local media.

Armstrong, who took over the Time Warner (TWX) unit earlier this year and is prepping it for a spinoff that’s supposed to happen by the end of 2009, doesn’t plan on replacing either executive, say people familiar with the matter. Instead, their work will be divvied up among other Armstrong lieutenants.

Partoll’s mobile responsibilities, for instance, will be given to new hire and former Yahoo (YHOO) exec Brad Garlinghouse, while Kannapell’s responsibilities will be handed to newish hire and former Google (GOOG) exec Jeff Levick. Armstrong himself will handle international duties, previously assigned to Partoll.

Kannapell’s departure isn’t a total shock, since he was listed as “acting head” of local during a reorg that Armstrong oversaw in June. But Partoll is a head-scratcher, since she was promoted to her new/old position during that same exec shuffle.

And what about those layoffs? Armstrong is almost certain to make some cuts at some point–and has told employees as much. But people familiar with the company say he hasn’t been focused on cost structure (i.e., cuts) until recently.

Viacom and Google Fight in Court, but Work Together to Keep Kanye West Off of YouTube

video music award taylor swiftYes, Viacom is still suing Google for  a billion dollars, because it says too many of its videos showed up on YouTube. But that doesn’t mean Viacom and Google (GOOG) can’t work together to prevent the cable giant’s videos from showing up on YouTube.

Want to see this in action? Go to YouTube and try to find a clip of the Kanye West/Taylor Swift/Beyoncé incident from Sunday night’s Video Music Awards. Everyone’s still talking about it (I don’t know why, really, but I guess I’m out of the demo), but if you want to watch it on YouTube, you’re stuck watching shaky, grainy footage created when people film their TV sets with a camcorder.

That’s the result of Viacom (VIA) and YouTube using the site’s Content ID system–which YouTube installed after Viacom filed suit more than two years ago. Content ID allows YouTube to track copyrighted material on the site as long as the copyright owner tells it what to look for.

It’s not a plug-and-play solution: On Sunday, Viacom had to have staff work through the night to provide YouTube with “reference files” from the live show so that the Google’s video service could find the offending clips and take them down.

But it worked pretty well. Decent-quality clips of the Kanye incident were taken down fairly quickly, and the grainy shots had only generated some 700,000 views by Monday afternoon, according to video-tracker TubeMogul. Meanwhile, MTV’s official version was approaching two million views (it’s now above three million).

You could argue that both Google and MTV would be better served if the official clip was on YouTube. And one day, that might happen. But first, they have to settle their court case.

That looks less likely today than it did a week ago, by the way, because of the recent ruling in the Universal Music/Veoh case. Team Viacom says the case, which appears to be quite similar to its own, won’t have any bearing on the how the company proceeds, while the YouTube guys see it as an affirmation of their position. Translation: More legal back and forth and fewer Viacom clips on the world’s biggest video site.

Here’s one of the low-fi versions, by the way. Not recommended if you’re prone to motion sickness:

What Google Understands About the Future of News and Publishing That Publishers Do Not

Google knows a lot about the future of news — more than many publishers. It’s evident in Google’s new product, Fast Flip, which allows news consumers to “flip” through news stories. What’s striking about Fast Flip is that Google is innovating precisely where publishers used to lead innovation.

Fast Flip is a new package for news.

The publishing business has always been about packaging content. Newspapers. Magazines. Newsletters

In digital media, on the web, the news package is now a function of software — which is why Google is innovating precisely where publishers are not.

Fast Flip is, more accurately, an attempt to create a new UI for news — a better way to consume publishers’ content than publishers provide on their own sites.

Most publishers are focused on how to charge for news. But there’s very little talk about how to innovate the packaging of news, much less a new UI for news. There’s very little talk about how people consume news on the web, about the value of aggregating articles from multiple sources, about solving consumers’ problems rather than publishers’ problems.

That’s why Google is taking the lead on figuring out how to create the new news package, and why they will continue to control the lucrative front end of distribution, while publishers are left with far less profitable back end of content creation.

Google is sharing revenue with publishers because Fast Flip goes way beyond linking to actually partially reproducing entire web pages. And publishers will have to be content with the revenue that Google shares.

Unless they finally decide to compete on the real playing field that will determine the future of news and publishing.

Can Google’s “Fast Flip” Save Publishing?

google-flip-3-mGoogle has just announced new efforts to help magazine and newspaper publishers with a new search service that displays results in the style of a “virtual magazine”. The program is called “Fast Flip” and will launch with featured content from The New York Times, The Washington Post and the BBC. The concept aims to replicate the experience of browsing a printed publication, with readers pressing next page to be instantly “flipped” on to the next item of content, with revenue share built into the experience.

The new-look news website, dubbed Fast Flip, will pull in content from more than 40 publishers and aims to make reading articles online a more “engaging” experience, said Google.

The Telegraph reports:

Revenue generated from the adverts served alongside the article will be split between Google and the relevant publisher, with content providers taking the “majority” of the revenue, according to a Google spokesman.

Josh Cohen, a business product manager at Google, said that Fast Flip, which will be available as a test service from the Google Labs section of the search giant’s website, will aggregate content from dozens of US websites, newspapers and magazines that have opted in to the service, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and Newsweek.

Users can either browse through articles based on the most recent, most viewed or most recommended stories, or search for articles by topic or keyword. Clicking on an article takes the user directly through to that publisher’s website. Fast Flip will also be available on Apple’s iPhone and handsets running the Google Android operating system, enabling users to continue reading features, opinion pieces and news stories while on the move.

Google to the rescue?

Yesterday I tweeted about Google’s offer to bring its checkout to enable micropayments for newspapers: “A cynical act, I’d say: a tool no one uses used to coopt foes on a useless quest.” In response, Charlie Williams tweeted, “How about savvy & low risk?” And I said that savvy and cynicism are by no means mutually exclusive.

You’ve Got a Friend on YouTube

YouTube announced Wednesday that it will roll out a new social feature to recommend video channels of people you may know. From the YouTube corporate blog:

How will we make the suggestions? If you’ve logged in to YouTube and sent a video to a friend’s email address, or if you have your YouTube account linked to a Gmail account, we will use this information to help identify your friends who already have YouTube channels. You’ll only see channels whose owners have allowed themselves to be found by others who have their email address.

All summer long, YouTube has been going after this low-hanging fruit to eek out a few more plays from its massive audience. In June the company integrated Facebook Connect to allow people to directly share videos they publish with their friends and last month the company talked up its development of unexpected recommendations to stimulate viewer interest and keep them watching.

Credit Suisse analysts estimate YouTube makes 35 percent margins on its ad-carrying video streams, so making these small tweaks and wringing out a few more plays per user at YouTube’s scale combined with new monetization efforts will (ideally) translate into more ads and more moolah for the company.