Canoe Ventures, the partnership of major cable companies formed a few years back to make scaled addressable and interactive TV a reality, is redefining its mission and drastically scaling back its operation. The cable company venture is shutting down its New York office and laying off most of the staffers based there -- approximately 120 employees. The venture will move its base to Denver, where it currently has a technical center with a staff of approximately 30 engineers.
A Canoe representative said that the moves come after a reassessment by the cable company partners in the joint venture, including Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Charter, Cablevision and Bright House. The company rep said the joint venture remains intact, but the partners essentially decided to redefine Canoe as a much smaller engineering-oriented operation. It will focus on video-on-demand advertising initiatives -- a business that the partners believe has more potential than ITV or addressability at present.
The company had previously refocused to concentrate efforts and resources on a national interactive TV platform after deciding that addressability was not a viable endeavor, at least in the near term as well, given marketplace feedback.
As a result of the restructuring, the Canoe senior leadership team, including CEO Kathy Timko, will be leaving the company. The one exception is Joel Hassell, who has been Canoe’s chief technology officer. He has been named CEO and will be based in Denver with the remaining team of engineers.
Hassell issued a statement Wednesday that said, in part, “To make on-demand ad inventory as valuable as traditional broadcast (linear) or online inventory, the industry needs a standard, ubiquitous way to steward and monetize on-demand advertising. Canoe is committed to making this happen.
"Our new focus will be on giving programmers the ability to dynamically insert advertising into on-demand TV in a common way nationwide, by expanding our current technical platform and operations to facilitate advertising between many programmers and distributors.”
The company rep said that Canoe would gradually phase out its ITV business over the next several months in a bid to be “respectful” of the plans of current clients, including national programmers and advertisers. It’s expected that the New York office will close in approximately 90 days.
Canoe was formed by its cable company partners in 2008 to create platforms for national addressable and interactive television distribution. A major challenge for the venture was to devise technology that would enable the largely incompatible and proprietary systems of its partners to "talk" to each other. But within a short time, the venture targeted just ITV and later, VOD services.
David Verklin, former CEO of Aegis Americas, was Canoe’s first CEO. He left in the summer of 2011 and was replaced by Timko, who had been Canoe's COO.
Before today, there was little indication that Canoe’s partners were busy behind the scenes coming up with a new model. Just last week, Canoe and the National Association of Advertisers released findings from a year-long study of interactive television effectiveness.
News of Canoe’s restructuring comes in the wake of a study by Deloitte that concluded that despite all the testing that’s been done in both the ITV and addressability sectors, both businesses may still be ahead of their time. Deloitte concluded that neither would gain much traction in the marketplace for the foreseeable future.
Sounds like the cable companies promised to be there between noon and 4pm, then never showed up.