Adobe Systems' CEO said recently that the multimedia software giant is in the mood to gobble up some technology startups. And in these economic times—Adobe itself laid off 600 employees in December—that sentiment alone is bound to put a smile on entrepreneurs' faces.
"There are small technology companies where you get some great technology and great people…. We will continue to be aggressive at looking at them," Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen told Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last week. "But we're not bottom-feeders; we're looking for interesting companies that are going to help drive the future."
Narayen said prospective buys would be more on the order of interactive publishing startup Scene7 (a 2007 acquisition with an undisclosed price tag) rather than Macromedia (a 2005 acquisition for $3.4 billion). He also mentioned a particular interest in software that can be used on non-PC devices such as mobile phones and game consoles.
O.K., Mr. Narayen. Challenge accepted. We have made you a shopping list. We happen to think Web video initiatives are the most interesting thing you can get involved in, but, hey, we're clearly biased.
We think Adobe should buy:
• A video recommendation company with its eye on living room platforms, like ffwd.
•In the mobile space, how about a mobile browser company like Skyfire or a neato live-streaming service like Qik? It also seems as if Transpera has been doing a great job of tying up the mobile video deployment market.
• Vimeo (currently owned by IAC) or Blip.tv. These sites makes excellent use of Flash and have developed standalone content specialties. Yes, it would be a change to get into the media business, but they could be playgrounds for new video technology. Adobe also already has investments in Veoh, China's 56.com (http://www.56.com/) and the civic-minded Fora.tv, so it also makes sense to pick up one of those.
• A smaller, newer CDN player, maybe something along the lines of BitGravity. What with the Adobe AIR-based Adobe Media Player on the consumption end and all the Flash-serving infrastructure, you could even go the whole nine yards and buy one of the many white-label video players to get closer to offering a complete package video solution.
• There's no Web-based video-editing tool we currently love, but we do like the fancy music-timed slideshow videos from Animoto.
• Though Adobe already has P2P engineering in-house, there's lots to choose from in the space, and the price might be right. A live P2P plug-in helper such as Octoshape, which CNN used with Flash for its recent inauguration coverage, would be good. Adobe already has an investment in Digital Fountain.
• We might have said Joost in the past, but they've disappointed repeatedly on the technical front, and they don't even do P2P anymore. Maybe something like Grid Networks, which is looking to bring this stuff to TV.
• Specialized content creation software. We saw Storyist at Macworld, a nicely designed storyboarding and manuscript creation tool. That's box software, though. We also recently looked at PortalVideo, a simple video editing tool focused on the needs of documentary makers.
• Microsoft's Silverlight business. Hey, why not?
Mr. Narayen, our readers surely have even smarter suggestions. So please read through our comments section, where they will, we hope, correct our assumptions, add inspired suggestions, and offer informative and well-reasoned (please!) plugs for their own startups.