Microsoft has acquired VideoSurf, an Al Gore-backed video search technology start-up, for a reported $70 million.

The news was first reported by Israeli business newspaper Calcalist (text in Hebrew).

The San Mateo, Calif-based start-up says its technology can "see" frames inside videos–rather than using text-based data such as meta tags–to find content quickly from anywhere on the web. Microsoft's plans for the technology: to use it in Xbox 360 and Xbox Live.

"VideoSurf's content analytics technology will enhance the search and discovery of entertainment content across our platform," Alex Garden, the director of Xbox Live, said in a statement.

The technology – which returns a string of snapshots showing frames within a video, a la a DVD on fast-forward -- will also be incorporated into Xbox Live's Tellme voice search, which is launching in the next few weeks.

"Over time, as we integrate VideoSurf's technology into our system, we are excited about the potential to have content tagged in real time to increase the speed and relevance of the search results," Garden said.

VideoSurf was founded in 2006 by Lior Delgo, Achi Brandt, Eitan Sharon and Shai Deljo. Delgo, the CEO, previously co-founded travel search engine Farechase Inc., which Yahoo! acquired in July 2004 for an undisclosed sum (small enough that Securities and Exchange Commission rules did not require disclosure.) In 2009, Yahoo! shut the site down.

In April, VideoSurf raised $16 million in a round of funding led by Israel's Pitango Venture Capital. The company had raised a total of $28 million. Investors included Al Gore, Current Media CEO Joel Hyatt, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and her husband, SurveyMonkey CEO David Goldberg.

VideoSurf claimed 20 million unique visitors a month, up sharply from the 1.5 million it was claiming in 2009.



Nov 23, 2011