Comcast’s digital content delivery software subsidiary ThePlatform made its first acquisition this week, picking up tiny social networking startup Chirp Interactive. Founded just one year ago, the San Francisco-based company has developed an interactive screen saver that collects updates from websites like Facebook and Flickr. Structured as an asset acquisition, ThePlatform will use the VC-backed company’s technology and select employees to build similar social features into its own content distribution and management system.
Comcast bought ThePlatform in 2006, early in its efforts to build a viable online video distribution business, and operates the business as an independent entity. Since 2006, it’s been reported that the cable giant has shelled out nearly half a billion dollars on five online deals since the beginning of 2006, including its purchases of movie review and ticketing website Fandango in April 2007 and social networking site Plaxo in May 2008. Comcast’s VC arm, Comcast Interactive Capital, has also been banking heavily on online startup. One recipient of Comcast’s capital is tiny video and advertising distribution company Revver, which incidentally was picked up by LiveUniverse in February.
Going forward, we ask where Comcast and its VC arm will be setting their sights. Well, mobile content distribution, of course. In fact, Comcast participated in a $12.6m seed-round funding of Boston-based mobile WiMax startup Cartiza earlier this month. It also joined Google, Time Warner and other industry behemoths in a $3.2bn round in WiMax company Clearwire in April. After building up a healthy reserve of content, a video and advertising distribution platform and increasing social networking capabilities, the need to converge these platforms on mobile devices is clear, and Comcast is making the moves to do just this.
Selected Comcast acquisitions