Cloud TV: ActiveVideo Networks
Where it's based: San Jose, Calif.
When it was founded: 1988 (as ICTV)
Why it's Fierce: Cloud TV is one answer to the thin client/thick client argument that has been revolving around the cable industry for the past 20 years or so. Using the Internet cloud as a vast storage bin, cable operators including Cablevision Systems, Oceanic Time Warner and PCCW-Hong Kong can deliver a rich source of media and content from games to social networking to niche "long tail" content and targeted advertising without overloading a hard-drive based set-top box.
ActiveVideo enables content to be written once and then delivered as a single adaptable MPEG stream to virtually any television screen or set-top box. Subscribers can then use standard remote controls to search for, select and engage with the content as if they were working with a mouse and a computer--only they're not, they're working with a remote and a TV. Because the content is streamed, it provides one further safeguard that should become increasingly important to future television services: It zaps the possibility of bugs that could disrupt the viewing experience.