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A TiVo Replay at Venture Firm

Kim Hart

Ten years ago, New Enterprise Associates, a venture capital firm with offices in Baltimore, helped revolutionize the way Americans watch TV by putting a sizable investment in a small Silicon Valley start-up called TiVo.

Now Michael Ramsay, the co-founder and former CEO of TiVo, has joined the firm as a venture partner. He left his post at the company in 2005, just when TiVo was facing stiff competition from digital recording equipment offered by cable companies such as Comcast and Cox. TiVo has also been experimenting with new ways to appease advertisers who claimed they lost viewers through TiVo's technology, which allows television watchers to skip commercials altogether.

Ramsay, who says his "objective was not to be a CEO, at least for a period of time," will focus on developing new companies in consumer technology and media. In an interview, he said he's particularly interested in new ways to deliver and monetize online video.

But the turning point in online video's popularity, he said, won't come until people look to the Web for specific content they can't find on TV. "It has to start to become ubiquitous and we need to see content that people are really attracted to...not just people browsing around looking at silly videos," he said.

Advertising, as the dominant form of monetizing broadband services, is still in its infancy, he added.

"Five years from now, there won't be 500 channels. Channels will be infinite, and they'll all be on-demand," Ramsay said.

He said he's also intrigued by the evolution of the mobile phone, "which is going to increasingly become a wired part of your anatomy." In addition to his continued involvement with TiVo's board, Ramsay is on the board of a company called Loopt, a location-based service for mobile phones that he calls "the MySpace for cell phones." Similar to the Dodgeball service, Ramsay said Loopd helps you locate nearby friends through your phone.

Ramsay may even create companies of his own through his new gig. It will be interesting to see what other consumer-oriented ideas he has.

By Kim Hart  |  June 5, 2007; 8:04 AM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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