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June 10, 1999

Ncube Says SkyConnect Merger Makes It Number One in Video

By CBR Staff Writer

Ncube Corp, the interactive video server company, has merged with SkyConnect Inc, a company specializing in digital ad insertion applications. Foster City, California-based nCube, in which Oracle Corp CEO Larry Ellison owns a majority stake, agreed to acquire Denver, Colorado-based SkyConnect back in March. It claims the combined company would possess the largest number of video server systems in the world.

SkyConnect acquired the digital ad insertion system software from Digital Equipment Corp back in August 1997. It was part of DEC’s MediaPlex suite of video products, and primarily aimed at the cable industry for ad insertions. DEC eventually agreed to drop its MediaPlex work altogether and use Oracle Corp’s Video Server software on its DEC AlphaServer hardware.

Ellison, who is both chairman and CEO of nCube, said in a statement that the acquisition was now a done deal. The new company will provide systems for a variety of broadcast quality digital applications, video-on-demand, near video-on-demand (NVOD), digital video advertising insertion, local origination, distance learning, multichannel advertising, and traffic and billing. Ncube will continue to use Compaq Computer Corp’s AlphaServer for SkyConnect’s digital ad insertion business, while using nCube’s own MediaCube servers to expand its video-on-demand business.

Michael Pohl, former chief of SkyConnect, becomes president of the new nCube. SkyConnect will continue to operate out of its current Denver headquarters, while nCube will keep its San Francisco headquarters. There are 200 employees in total. The combined operation claims to have more than 21,000 broadcast quality MPEG channels installed. Worldwide, it says it will be number one in video on demand and near video-on-demand, and number two in digital ad insertion, behind SeaChange Inc.

Earlier this week Time Warner Cable Inc announced that it had begun testing the newest addition to the nCUBE video sever product line, the MediaCUBE 4. The MediaCUBE 4 scales from 40 to 40,000 simultaneous 3 Mbps streams, and allows all users to access the same movie title or different movie titles with only a single copy of each title stored on the server. While the previous MediaCUBE used proprietary chip technology, the new version uses Intel Pentium III processors. Up to 256 can be clustered together. The new box will be demonstrated running streaming video into Scientific Atlanta and General Instrument digital set-top boxes at the National Cable Television Association trade show in Chicago next week.

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