Marissa Mayer is keeping busy, and it looks like she is going strong versus Google. In a deal whose details remained undisclosed, Yahoo! acquired video chat startup OnTheAir, to bolster Yahoo’s mobile capabilities, but more realistically, to compete with Google+ Hangouts.
OnTheAir launched about nine months ago, with big dreams and big ambitions, but never quite managed to build a widespread daily use product, despite an initial $880,000 seed round pumped into the startup by True Ventures and others. But with the acquisition by Yahoo! the company got at least one dream fulfilled: a strong partner to further development. And while in the official press announcement we learn that Yahoo! is committed to making mobile products the backbone for the world’s daily habits, the move seems more aimed at developing Yahoo! capabilities able to compete with Google+ Hangouts.
What OnTheAir does best is allowing people to host their own live video chats: interactive live video, as the service was described. At the time of the launch, OnTheAir was already more flexible than Google+ Hangouts, and had real-time sharing capabilities on Facebook and Twitter. It was not limited to a closed community, like Google+ Hangouts, but designed to place a live broadcast in front of an audience of thousands. It is still not disclosed how Yahoo! will integrate OnTheAir, but you can have a few “wild” guesses, among them that Marissa Mayer is trying to crack some of Google’s strongholds. Keep in mind that earlier this year Yahoo! grabbed Stamped, a Google Ventures-backed iPhone app launched by a team of former Google employees last year:
Got to visit our new acquisition, Stamped, this morning – happy to be reunited with Robby (rmstein) and his instagr.am/p/RNqg3skMM-/
— marissamayer (@marissamayer) October 25, 2012
So what about a new Yahoo! social network to compete with Google+, but something focused on mobile rather than traditional online networks?