Digital Dealmakers

Babak Maghfourian, CEO of VideoClix

Babak Maghfourian

The player: Babak Maghfourian, CEO of VideoClix

The play: VideoClix applies the interactive TV notion of "clicking on Jennifer Aniston’s sweater" to the Web. The Vancouver-based company makes Web video clickable. Web users can click on an object in a video and be directed to fun facts, product info or a Web site. "We build in a third-party link to our site. That is our lead generation system," Mr. Maghfourian said. "A sponsor of an object could be a car dealer and if anyone is interested in a BMW, they can click on the car and I will send them to a Web site."

The pitch: "This is a pull system. It’s user-initiated, it’s non-obtrusive, it’s interactive and information delivery," Mr. Maghfourian said.

In the mix: Customers include Sony BMG, Disney, Dreamworks Interactive and others. The company counts more than 11,000 licensees and is also reaching out to ad networks and content providers to strike deals for the service.

The backstory: Mr. Maghfourian started VideoClix nine years ago, marketing the software to educational institutions as a learning tool. "You could click on a zebra and learn more about the animal," he said. In 2001, media agencies grew interested in VideoClix as an interactive Web tool and the company inked deals with General Motors and Honda to incorporate VideoClix into short videos about cars, for instance. n When the YouTube phenomenon took off two years ago, Mr. Maghfourian focused the company on Web video and the advertising potential in it. "We have morphed from a technology company into a media company," he said.

Pros: eMarketer projects Web video advertising will grow 89 percent this year to $775 million.

Cons: VideoClix technology needs to be added during the post-production phase, so it can’t work on live video. The service won’t likely apply to news, sports or other time-sensitive content.

The money guys: The company has raised $9.6 million in venture funding from Asia Capital, Daylight Ventures and others. VideoClix makes money via a revenue share of ad dollars and in some cases by licensing the software. Mr. Maghfourian will not disclose a timeframe for profitability. VideoClix is paid on a cost-per-click model.

Background: Mr. Maghfourian was born in Munich and raised in Paris. He moved to Canada in 1984 and graduated from St. Michael’s University. While there he wrote a video game for Apple II and Philips game consoles. He completed his studies as an industrial engineer at British Columbia Institute of Technology in 1992. He founded interactive e-commerce company Avalanche Multimedia before starting VideoClix in 1998. He is 40 and lives in Vancouver. VideoClix plans to open offices in London and San Francisco in the next few months, so he’ll live in those cities for a while.

Who knew? Mr. Maghfourian speaks five languages fluently: French, German, Persian, English and Turkick. He is also an extreme scuba diver and snowboarder.

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