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Virage is no mirage

PC giant Compaq buys into vid archive firm

After devoting much of its attention to becoming the world’s leading PC maker, Compaq Computer has entered the technical side of the entertainment and news industries, acquiring 10% of software designer Virage for $4 million.

The San Mateo, Calif.-based software maker produces the VideoLogger and VIR Image Engine software packages that operate on Windows NT machines and enable users to index, search and retrieve analog video and images for tape libraries and real-time broadcasts.

The company is also releasing AudioLogger to index and extract speech transcripts, also in real-time. Users pay $20,000 in licensing fees per logging station. Clients include CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and the BBC, as well as Lucent and the FBI.

The strategic partnership also includes a separate licensing arrangement with popular Compaq-owned Internet search engine Alta Vista to run Virage’s software and enable Internet users to search news items.

The software was recently used on Alta Vista and CNN’s sites to enable users to search video presentations of President Clinton’s grand jury testimony and State of the Union Address for areas of particular interest.

Virage also plans to partner with other portals and Web sites to offer the searchable video software and share ad revenues.

While media giants such as Disney and AOL have been involved in a frenzy of media mergers, acquiring Internet companies such as Infoseek and Netscape, Alta Vista still remains without a major media partner.

Compaq’s move to invest in Virage will make Alta Vista more attractive to investors when it takes the unit public later this year.

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