Autonomy Set To Acquire Virage

Virage Inc., with video-cataloging software used by media companies like ABC News, CSPAN and CBS, is expected to be acquired by Autonomy Corp. plc in September for a net cash price of $13.3 million.

Virage will operate as a subsidiary. According to Dr. Michael Lynch, Autonomy managing director and CEO, there will be some staffing cuts at Virage, as back-office functions and sales forces are integrated.

The acquisition is driven, he says, by Virage's strong brand and customer base, providing upscale opportunities for Autonomy. "Entertainment is one vertical market segment where we will leverage Virage's success."

Virage's customers will benefit from Autonomy's core technology offering, says Autonomy Director of Corporate Communications Ian Black. The latter company was founded in 1996 when Lynch used a proprietary pattern-matching technology created at Cambridge University to develop software used to automate the processing of unstructured, semi-structured and structured information across digital networks. One application is automated encoding and cataloging of video and audio material with the use of face, voice and text recognition.

"We think our technology will fundamentally assist their technology development," says Black. "We can automate operations of the principal layer, and that offers a number of key things you couldn't achieve manually."

For example, Virage's most recent product is the VideoLogger 6.0, a system that allows multiple logging personnel working off a single computer system to index and add metadata to incoming video feeds. Autonomy's core algorithm, the Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL), and its Dynamic Reasoning Engine (DRE) could be incorporated into the VideoLogger. For the customer, it would mean a more automated logging process; for Virage, it will mean cost savings related to product development.

"Virage buys some of the technologies it has in its products so what we would do is replace those bought pieces with IDOL," Black explains. "Virage does good things with their products, but they're much more manual based."

Black says integration into existing systems deployed in the field won't be difficult. "We're not talking about a long and complicated integration process because there isn't a lot of handcoding. The heart of IDOL is automatically identifying shot changes and speaker changes and turning audio into a transcript. So the deployment and integration is faster as well."