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Telstra's scoops in-house YouTube contender

Injects US$35m into Ooyala

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Telstra’s Application and Ventures group, quietly created last year and headed by Deena Schiff, has made its first international play leading a US$35 million investment in video platform Ooyala.

Ooyala is part of a slew of competing YouTube-for-enterprise styled IP video companies currently vying for acquisition or additional capital. Founded by a cabal of former Googleplexers, Ooyala differentiates itself by hosting promotional and brand integrated videos and is bolstered by back end smarts that track audience engagement.

The timing of the investment and blossoming relationship is curious as Telstra’s IPTV operations undergoes its biggest review to date under its new group managing director, Digital Media, Rick Ellis. The review has already resulted in the loss of a stream of Telstra digital media executives and much speculation as to the future viability of the IPTV division .

As part of the investment Telstra is in the midst of broking a commercial agreement where the carrier will become a client and reseller deploying Ooyala software, analytics and service offerings throughout Australia. According to the Ooyala announcement Telstra’s current multi-device IPTV offerings will be “enhanced” through the integration of Ooyala’s online video technology and analytics.

The announcement adds that “Telstra will work closely with Ooyala to allow for the smooth transition of services and allow customers to reap the benefits of the new model,” but did not outline how existing services would be change and if any existing supplier agreements would be affected.

Ooyala said it would use its Series E funding to support the expansion of its international operations, building on its existing footprint in Europe, Asia Australia and Latin America . It will also focus on meeting increased demand from multi-service operators and TV programmers.

Telstra, led the round, with prior investors Sierra Ventures, Rembrandt Venture Partners and CID Group participating in addition to other strategic investors. Telstra media director Gary Traver, said, “with Ooyala’s robustness and focus on personalization and profitability, it is becoming the platform on which the next generation of large-scale deployments are built.”

Telstra will join Ooyala’s network of major reseller partners that include Telefonica and Yahoo! Japan. ®

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