Sunday, December 7, 2014

Baidu to Invest $3m in Israeli Start Up Pixellot

Chinese Internet giant Baidu is making its first direct investment in an Israeli startup.

The Chinese company, sometimes called the Chinese Google, is investing $3 million in Pixellot, which provides a unique high-quality and affordable alternative to traditional video capture and production processes, opening the way to a new era in sports and music video production. Pixellot has raised $5.3 million to date with previous investos including the TheTime incubator and the founders.

Founded in 2013 by chairman Miky Tamir and CTO Gal Oz, Pixellot develops an ultra-high resolution, unmanned video ‘capture-all’ system with a remote proxy video production suite. This novel solution effectively automates video production by deploying a multi-camera system that covers an entire scene, instead of the traditional method of using several manned cameras and hoping to catch just the right shots. Using a series of ingenious algorithms, Pixellot allows its users to choose an object to zoom in on any part of the venue and to navigate back and forth in time - previously impossible.

Pixellot's target market is primarily the multibillion-dollar "long tail" sports and music production domains, such as high school team sports and amateur community football (soccer) leagues. Pixellot will enable the players, their families and fans to create their own personal videos, as well as to monitor the players' performance parameters using cloud-based services.

Here too, Pixellot’s technology offers new capabilities to a still largely untapped market. Along with its "long tail" product, Pixellot also addresses the needs of the professional broadcast market by offering alternate, low-cost production systems and workflows, as well as unique effects, like spatial replay, tied-to-field graphics, special cameras and unprecedented second-screen applications.

Pixellot is already in advanced talks with leading global networks and sports federations that are interested in using its technology to capture high-profile sports and music events. Pixellot's systems were recently tested by the French Tennis Federation.

“We’re very enthusiastic about bringing Pixellot’s ground-breaking technology to Chinese Internet users. For the first time, video content producers can broadcast concerts, sports, and stage events and enable the audience to watch streaming video with total freedom to choose camera angles in real time on their devices. “We think this will revolutionize video content production," said Senior Director of Baidu Corporate Development Peter Fang.

"We are truly excited to kick off this partnership with Baidu as a strategic investor, which will enable us to grow globally and bring us into the Chinese market. We are both honored and proud to become Baidu's first investment in an Israeli company. With this capital inflow, we plan to invest in further expanding our R&D and advancing our global marketing and business development platform,” said Dr. Tamir. The current investment is Baidu's first in an Israeli start-up, but not its first in the Israeli start-up sector.

Baidu was among the investors in Carmel Ventures' fourth fund, which recently finished raising $194 million. Baidu has been prospering recently, with its share price climbing to a record-breaking $250.

The company held its IPO in 2005 at a company value of $120 million, and is now traded at an $81.5 billion market cap.

Pixellot is not Tamir and Oz's first company. They also founded SportVu, which developed a system for automatic monitoring of players for statistical purposes. SportVu was sold in 2008 to Stats, jointly owned by communications corporations News Corporation and AP. Dr. Tamir was also a co-founder of Orad High Tec Systems, which specializes in broadcasting graphics and virtual studios.

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