Kara Swisher

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Yahoo Buys TV Programming Index IntoNow for About $17 Million, Plus Retention Packages

In a move to strengthen its television listings, Yahoo said it had acquired IntoNow, a TV indexing company.

The deal is designed to bolster the Silicon Valley start-up’s data set in a key vertical.

UPDATE: Terms were not disclosed, but sources said the price was about $15 million in cash and also close to $2 million in stock. In addition, there are retention elements, based on performance, that could add on $5 million more.

IntoNow had only launched in January of this year as an iPhone app that recognizes what’s playing on television by analyzing the audio from satellite TV feeds and matching it to TV listings and its extensive index. The start-up had hoped to eventually license its technology as offer measurement services for TV advertising and viewership.

Here’s how the iPhone app works, from Liz Gannes’s story in January:

IntoNow, a new iOS app launching today, identifies television programs by just hearing snippets from them. It’s similar to the Shazam mobile app that many people know and love, which IDs an ambient song by recording it and quickly matching it to an archive.

IntoNow users can “check in” to a particular episode once it’s been recognized, like one would check into a restaurant on Foursquare. The goal is to enable conversations around the watercooler and on social networks by helping users connect around what they’re watching and discover new things to watch.

IntoNow was a tech spinoff from the video advertising company Auditude, which has raised almost $40 million in funding from Greylock Partners and Redpoint Ventures. While the two VC firms received equity in IntoNow as part of the spinoff, IntoNow had not disclosed any additional funding.

Here is the official press release:

Yahoo! Acquires IntoNow; Technology Allows Users to Find, Discuss and Follow their Favorite Television Programs

SUNNYVALE, Calif.–April 25, 2011–Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO), the premier digital media company, today announced the acquisition of IntoNow. Launched in January 2011, IntoNow has built a platform and companion TV application based on real time indexing of television that deepens the connections between audiences, television content and advertisers. IntoNow has indexed more than five years of US based television programming, creating a rich database to build video discovery and programming experiences. IntoNow is able to identify content down to the airing, episode and time within the program as well as provide program information and links associated with it, all within a matter of seconds.

“Relying on social channels as a means for discovering content–whether it’s on a PC, mobile device, or TV–is rapidly on the rise. IntoNow’s technology combines the ability to check-in to what a consumer is watching, engage in conversations, and find related content,” said Bill Shaughnessy, SVP of Product Management and Product Marketing at Yahoo!. “The IntoNow application the team has built clearly demonstrates the opportunities the technology presents across Yahoo!’s network, especially in regards to our video content, search, mobile and Connected TV experiences. We are excited to have the IntoNow team join Yahoo! as we continue to build out these experiences.”

The addition of IntoNow will enable Yahoo! to provide enhanced media experiences and video programming, bolstering its social engagement across the Yahoo! network and on all screens. IntoNow users are able to easily engage with friends around the shows they enjoy most. IntoNow helps people discover new shows, discuss favorites with friends and learn more about them, and provides recommendations for what is currently airing based on their interests and those they are connected to. The application is also integrated with Facebook, Twitter, iTunes and Netflix to enable more sharing and information gathering.

“IntoNow has built a unique way for people to engage with each other around the content they enjoy,” said Adam Cahan, CEO of IntoNow. “Companion applications and devices are changing the way we interact with TV in significant ways. The IntoNow team is excited to be joining Yahoo! to help create new consumer experiences and to be part of Yahoo!’s global scale and reach.”

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work