Canoe Hires a Tillerman

Arthur Orduna will leave Advance/Newhouse Communications to become chief technology officer of Canoe Ventures LLC, the joint venture among six cable operators that is in the early stages of scoping out its infrastructure for delivering advanced TV-advertising services.

Orduna has been Advance/Newhouse's senior vice president of policy and product, responsible for developing and executing strategies for new and emerging technology areas. The company controls Bright House Networks, the sixth-biggest MSO.

Canoe spokeswoman Vicki Lins confirmed that Orduna has been named CTO and said the New York-based venture expects to make several announcements in September. Orduna didn't respond to an e-mail request for more information.

In June, Canoe's owners — Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems and Bright House — announced the initiative, which will act as a service bureau to allow marketers to place and track interactive television spots across multiple MSOs.

The team behind the ambitious advanced-ad project is just getting its feet wet. CEO David Verklin, previously head of ad agency Aegis Media Americas, officially started Aug. 4.

Canoe has yet to decide on key details for its information-technology infrastructure, according to a pair of Aug. 15 job postings from Time Warner Cable seeking two technology executives for the JV, both of whom would report to Orduna.

The venture is looking to hire a vice president of information technology to deliver “buy/build/outsource trade-off analyses” as part of defining an implementation strategy that “optimizes time to market, long-term extensibility and both capital and operational costs.”

The other executive, a VP of MSO systems technology, will ensure that “all required Canoe capabilities are deployed in participating MSOs within the agreed upon timeframe and in compliance with the specified interfaces and service-level agreements,” according to Time Warner Cable's listing.

The operators behind Canoe apparently were willing to make the “buy” decision on IT infrastructure, and looked into acquiring interactive TV developer Navic Networks after they got wind that Microsoft had made an offer. But in June, Microsoft paid $230 million for Navic, taking it out of play; Canoe reportedly has been funded with $150 million.

For his part, Orduna has spoken about the need for the cable industry to push ahead on interactive TV while recognizing that operators have many different projects vying for attention.

“We have a hell of a lot on our plates. We have the triple play, soon to be the quadruple play” as well as the February 2009 digital TV transition, he said, speaking on a panel at the Cable Show '08 in May. “It's going to be a challenge to make sure advanced advertising gets the attention and focus on it.”