TiVo’s VP of strategy discusses Rovi integration, patent litigation

Paul Stathacopoulos

Rovi recently completed its $1.1 billion acquisition of TiVo and now the two companies coexist under the TiVo name.

The new TiVo is scaling up and will now work in more than 25 million households, serve more than 500 pay-TV operators, and potentially realize at least $100 million in annual cost synergies.

To get a better view of the Rovi-TiVo integration process, FierceCable caught up with Paul Stathacopoulos, vice president of strategy at TiVo, on the sidelines of the annual IBC show in Amsterdam. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

FierceCable: What are the first steps for Rovi and TiVo as the companies start to integrate their technology and services portfolios?

Paul Stathacopoulos: On the original legacy Rovi side, we have the best metadata databases. So how do we best bring that in and really underpin it underneath all of the TiVo products? We’ve actually already completed the first integration with our metadata into TiVo. We rolled it out a couple of weeks ago across the entire TiVo footprint. That’s really exciting.

Then, behind that, we have our voice technology and a product we call our knowledge graph, which is a large graph database with machine learning on top, that we use to graph and relate the world of entertainment. It crawls about 100,000 sites a day and graphs the relationships of everything related to entertainment, and we use that to drive metadata, natural language voice processing and recommendations. So how do we bring that in with TiVo’s Digitalsmiths product and search and recommendations, which is the best search and rec in the world? It’s deployed with the most Tier Ones of search and rec out there.

The other piece that’s really critical for us from an integration perspective is the brand and cultural aspects. The brand, for us, is more than just a logo and a set of color treatments. The brand is about an entire personality overlay for the company. Honestly, some of the first steps internally for us as a company, is how we’re bringing that brand and what that brand means down into the depths of our company to really permeate it.

FierceCable: So TiVo coming in represents a strategic and cultural shift for Rovi?

Stathacopoulos: It’s one of the most significant ones we’ve done in the history of the company.

FierceCable: What does the shift toward becoming TiVo mean for the legacy employees?

Stathacopoulos: For us, it’s a stronger move toward being a company that’s customer- and product-focused first. TiVo has a strong history of being rooted in deep design, how they work with their customers, and a lot of other aspects that are part of their brand personality. That’s what we’re trying to bring into our organization.

FierceCable: What can TiVo do with the new financial and operational scale it gets after this deal?

Stathacopoulos: I think one of the most exciting things with this whole transaction is, between the two companies, we have unique capabilities that we’re each good at and those are really complementary on either side. One of the things that Rovi brought to this transaction is our sales and go-to-market scale. One of the things that TiVo brought is a collection of really high-quality, ready-for-market mature products. You have the core TiVo set-top products, you have the Cubiware products that are all designed and targeted toward international and emerging markets, and you have the Digitalsmiths platform. If we can overlay on that a really powerful sales and go-to-market capability, and you’ve got stuff that’s ready to be sold and be deployed, it really accelerates our path to market.

We like to talk internally about how bringing these two companies together is all about what we call 'forward faster.'

FierceCable: Both Rovi and TiVo have histories with patent litigation. How does that fit into the strategy going forward and how does that affect business?

Stathacopoulos: Intellectual property is part of our business. It’s part of both of our businesses. It’s a way that we protect the inventions. In the industry, it’s common practice for a lot of companies that license their inventions and sell their products. It will continue to be an important part of our business. For me, one of the keys to having a successful intellectual property business with healthy relationships with your customers, is having really high-quality, high-value products to counterbalance it on the other side. That way your customer relationship stays strong and they feel like they’re paying for the intellectual property, but they’re also getting more value on the product and partnership side. I think this transaction, in general, helped to increase that balance on the products and customer value side.