Accedo Broadband Plots NY Expansion to Capture Clients and Talent

3/8/12Follow @jpruth

Stockholm-based Accedo Broadband plans to set up New York offices in a strategic maneuver to get up close and personal with the consumer electronics giants it works with such as Samsung, Panasonic, and LG Electronics. Accedo, which develops apps and platforms that deliver content to televisions connected to the Web, plans to hire as many as 10 staffers within the next 18 months for the proposed New York office, according to David Adams, vice president of corporate development. Adams says it is too early to share all details, but the company sees an opportunity in the city to work more directly with the makers of smart televisions, as well as media companies and advertisers that want their content on those TVs.

Eight-year-old Accedo already has offices in Mountain View, CA, but Adams says being in New York will give the company an edge in dealing with its biggest clients, which all have domestic headquarters in the area. “It’s much easier to get through the politics of a multinational organization when you are there in the office rather than on the phone,” he says. The hires for New York are expected to include technical staff for project management as well as sales personnel.

Accedo is developing a variety of new technologies, including automatic content recognition, which checks what shows and commercials the audience is watching and then offers up apps that are associated with the content. Viewers watching CBS Sports, for example, might get a recommendation for an app that relates to the game on screen. Such technology can help increase attention to features in smart TVs that could otherwise be overlooked. “‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ might build an app you can play along with the game, but if viewers don’t know about it that can be an issue,” Adams says.

The spread of app stores among smart televisions and home entertainment devices like Roku, Adams says, is driving demand for third-party developers such as Accedo to create platforms for content providers. “It’s a big opportunity globally,” he says. Even before it establishes its New York presence, Accedo is deepening its ties to consumer electronics companies in the metropolitan area. Last March LG Electronics chose Accedo to develop Facebook and Twitter apps for its smart TVs. Accedo has also worked with SmartClip, Audible Magic, and Veramatrix to develop content-management systems for televisions. As more televisions are built to be app-friendly and connect to the Web, Adams says it is important for his company to react fast to clients’ needs.

Being nestled among the advertising companies in New York can’t hurt either, Adams says, to help prove that apps on television can increase audience engagement. “We need to be talking to ad networks,” he says. “The sector is uncertain on its return on investment.”

Accedo has raised $3.5 million primarily from Swedish venture capital firms Acacia and Industrifonden. Adams says the company is not currently seeking additional funds. “We’re growing organically, profitably, and doubling in size every year,” he says. The company has about 100 employees across all its offices, which include London, Hong Kong, Madrid, and Sydney.

Though it is early in the hiring process, Adams hopes the search for tech talent in the still growing New York ecosystem may be easier than it is in Silicon Valley. “You’ve got companies like Zynga hiring everything in sight,” he says. “New York might offer a better location for picking up [technical personnel].”

Accedo got its start building games and video infrastructure for telecos such as T-Mobile parent Deutchse Telekom to run on Internet protocol television networks. Adams says Accedo’s US-based operations develop applications that deliver content to smart TVs and connected devices for large media and entertainment entities in L.A. and New York. The company has developed apps for MTV, Vimeo, and CNBC, Adams says.

Developing apps for the television audience, Adams adds, is different from serving the mobile market. “People want to watch video when they look at a TV,” he says. “It turns out the killer app is video.” As obvious as that may sound, smart TV users crave apps that let them catch up on shows they missed or watch movies. “They are not really trying to use the OpenTable app [on their TVs] to figure out where to have dinner,” Adams says. “That is more of a mobile usage.”

The next wave of innovation for television, Adams predicts, will include the ability to ads to viewers in response to the content on screen. “Everybody is getting excited about the ability to target based on what someone is watching,” he says. That may even include competing ads. “If you’re watching a McDonald’s ad and we’re Burger King, we might offer you a coupon for Burger King,” Adams says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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