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December 11, 2012

Yahoo Acquires Startup OnTheAir

Yahoo recently acquired OnTheAir, a startup that offers interactive live video over the Web, in a move that shows the company’s commitment to increasing its mobile technology offerings.

OnTheAir, which uses WebRTC technology, is the second key acquisition by Yahoo under the watch of new CEO Marissa Mayer. It purchased Stamped, a mobile app startup, in October. Stamped lets users share recommendations for movies, books, music and restaurants, Webrtcworld said.

Mayer has made mobile technology a company priority, according to the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal.

OnTheAir noted the potential for mobile in its announcement about the acquisition.

“When we first met with the team at Yahoo …, it was clear that everybody there is committed to making mobile products the backbone for the world’s daily habits,” according to an online statement from OnTheAir. “All in all, it’s a fascinating time to be joining Yahoo... There’s a tremendous amount of energy in the company. There are big things to be done and great products to be built, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

OnTheAir launched in beta version in March with five employees. At that time, founders told Mashable they wanted “to make interactive live video a seamless experience that helps people cultivate groups based on their interests.… The live video chat would be great for celebrities, public figures or anyone looking to build an audience.”

Back then, the company also saw opportunities for bloggers to host discussions with readers or for small businesses to talk to customers about a new product, Mashable added. It is unique from Google Hangouts, which lets 10 viewers take part, and Ustream, which let no viewers take part, because any viewer of a live stream can chat with the host in front of the audience.

Earlier in the year, the company raised $880,000 from investors. Taking part were IronPort Co-founder Scott Banister, About.Me Co-founder and CEO Tony Conrad, StockTwits Co-founder and CEO Howard Lindzon, Triple Point Ventures President Ben Narasin, and Euclid Analytics Founder and CEO Will Smith.

When it was launched, many industry watchers were enthusiastic about its potential.

“OnTheAir will change how celebrities, journalists, and politicians communicate with the public,” TechCrunch stated in March. “OnTheAir could redefine the concept of one-to-many communication, and let us all get a little closer to our heroes.”

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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