Intel/Excalibur Venture Shoots, Scores with NBA

Convera Corp., the company being formed by chip giant Intel and video management developer Excalibur Technologies Corp., has secured its first client: the National Basketball Association.

The NBA has reached an agreement for Intel to develop and distribute interactive NBA content, including enhanced broadband programming and interactive game broadcasts. The initial products to be developed under the agreement will enable users to access daily customized NBA and WNBA highlights.

Intel plans to assign the agreement to Convera upon completion of a transaction announced in May. Previously, Intel and Excalibur agreed to form a new publicly traded company to provide rich-media content management. The goal was to target sports leagues as well as media and entertainment industry companies.

Apparently, the venture scored. Excalibur will incorporate its video content management technologies, including Excalibur Screening Room, as part of the solution that Intel is providing to the NBA.

As part of the NBA agreement, the NBA will receive a 10 percent equity stake in Convera.

Shares of Excalibur jumped 6 percent on the news, up 3-5/8 to 58-7/8 in Wednesday trading. The new trading ticker for Convera hasn’t yet been assigned by the Nasdaq.

Still, Excalibur isn’t alone in the market and isn’t even the only streaming media company that Intel has aligned with. Earlier this summer, Intel struck a deal with Virage for stream-searching instead of using Excalibur.

For its part, though, Excalibur said it takes no issue with Intel’s Virage deal. The chip maker “intends to work with a number of solution providers that will help [Intel] deliver a solution that best meets their needs. The agreement with Virage is not exclusive,” a company spokesman said.

“With this agreement with Intel, we believe that essentially we’ve created
the recipe for new ways that sports and entertainment will be delivered in
the future,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern. “Providing fans with
unmatched access to a new level of interactive media such as daily
customized highlights and classic footage available on demand from our vast
archives enables us to offer personalization for the user’s experience.”

“Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in sports
entertainment,” said Craig Barrett, Intel
president and chief executive officer. “Intel and the NBA will be working to
enable a whole new experience for fans online. We’re excited to be working
with one of the leaders in the sports world who has clearly identified the
Internet opportunity and is moving quickly to unlock the value, and the
action, from their extensive audio and video material.”

Although Excalibur’s core technology is relatively new, the company itself isn’t exactly unfamiliar with big name executives, like Stern and Barrett. Herbert A. Allen, president and chief executive officer of Allen & Company, has been a large shareholder for some time.

Upon completion of the transaction, Allen will be part of the 7-member board of Convera, which also will include Gerhard H. Parker, executive vice president, Intel; Andrew D. Bryant, Intel senior vice president; Ronald J. Whittier, senior vice president at Intel and proposed chairman and chief executive of Convera; and Patrick C. Condo, president and chief executive of Excalibur Technologies and Convera’s proposed president and chief operating officer. Two others will be named later.

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