Deals

Yahoo continues quest to buy top mobile talent with OnTheAir deal

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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has spelled out that the beleaguered media company would be buying its way to mobile dominance — not through big product purchases but with smart, mobile talent pickups. Mayer made good on that promise by snatching up the ex-Googlers and former Apple staffers behind video platform OnTheAir.

OnTheAir ceremoniously announced on its website Tuesday that it was joining Yahoo. The deal, VentureBeat has confirmed, is a talent grab designed to bring more mobile expertise to Yahoo. Yahoo is currently in the process of trying to figure out how to better distribute its content to mobile audiences.

“Hiring the most talented mobile product thinkers and engineers is a big priority for us moving forward. Abel, Dan, Erik, Josh, and Mike are a great addition to Yahoo!, and we can’t wait to work with them to create the best possible mobile experience for our users,” Yahoo’s Adam Cahan, senior vice president of emerging products & technology, said in a statement.

OnTheAir made a 9-month-old online video site for people who wanted to stream to large audiences and incorporate viewers in their live broadcasts. It was kind of like a less intimate version Google+ Hangouts, except Google+ also now offers a Hangouts On Air feature for people who want to broadcast to bigger groups. The OnTheAir team admitted in a post today that the product never reached the “widespread daily use” that they had hoped. Yahoo said that it will no longer offer the product.

“When we first met with the team at Yahoo!, it was clear that everybody there is committed to making mobile products the backbone for the world’s daily habits,” the five guys behind the product wrote in a post-mortem note.

The guys moving to Yahoo are Abel Allison, Daniel Hopkins, Erik Goldman, Josh Schwarzapel, and Mike Kerzhner. According to their bios, Goldman and Kerzhner previously worked at Apple, Hopkins helped build the infrastructure to support Gmail and Google+, and Allison and Szhwarzapel (OnTheAIr’s CEO) came from startups Meebo and Cooliris, respectfully.

Yahoo did not disclose the exact terms of the deal. OnTheAir appears to have raised less than $1 million in seed funding.

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