Convera Plans to Parlay NBA Connection

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Convera Corp.-the content-asset management company formed with Intel Corp.'s purchase of Excalibur Technologies Corp.-hopes to parlay its recent success with the National Basketball Association to draw other news, information and entertainment providers intent on developing broadband content.

The new company already has a strong head start in the field with 650 customers-including several major media organizations-and $150 million in cash to ride through a difficult capital environment.

Convera's software and content tool kits allow companies to manage text, data and video assets in a secure environment. The tools provide companies with advanced Internet search engines; video-content editing and viewing; and security systems that ensure only legitimate users can reach valuable content.

As broadband technology proliferates, content will become more important, said Convera chairman Ron Whittier.

"We can augment advertising revenue with pay-per-view, subscription and sell content on the Internet," he said. "There is an explosion of platforms, from PCs to TVs to handhelds, and they all have different information capabilities."

Convera can manage content through all those environments "within an architecture that allows for massive, scalable usage," Whittier stressed.

The NBA, which owns 9.5 percent of the company, is using Convera technology for its nba.com Web site.

One key application is personal highlights-on-demand. Consumers can log in to the site, search by team or player and call up highlights of an individual player's performance in a previous game. For instance, consumers could select from three-point shots, steals, assists or blocked shots made by their favorite player.

Eventually, the NBA could use Convera technology to offer live Webcasts and other content that could be supported by advertising, electronic commerce, subscription or pay-per-view revenue.

FoxSports.com used Convera technology to provide viewers of this year's Cotton Bowl with instant, personalized highlights. Viewers could see clips of their favorite player or watch replays of all touchdowns.

In addition to corporate clients such as Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Inc., United Air Lines Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc., Convera counts Discovery Communications, ABC News, FoxSports.com, The Los Angeles Times
and Microsoft Corp. as clients.

The highlights package appeals to other sports leagues, said Whittier.

"As broadband increases in terms of penetration, real-time highlights of games will be particularly important," he said. Using that same technology, Convera hopes over time to expand to other news and entertainment providers, he said.

Intel Corp. owns 54 percent of Convera, former Excalibur shareholders own 36 percent and the NBA owns the balance. The company generates revenue from corporate clients for asset-management services behind a company's firewall. Revenue is derived from licensing software.

Content companies, which comprise 40 percent of Convera's customer base, typically pay the company a monthly fee for service.

Jim Buchanan, Convera's chief financial officer, estimated the company would generate $50 million in revenue for the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2001, against operating expenses of $41 million to $42 million. The company expects to post at EBITDA loss between $5 million $6 million for the year.

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