PermissionTV Reinvents Itself as VisibleGains, Offers Interactive Video for Sales and Marketing

Sometimes, you need to keep the diamond and replace the ring. That’s how Cliff Pollan, recruited in March to be president and CEO of Waltham, MA-based VisibleGains, describes the process his company has been through over the last six months.

In this case, the company has kept its core technology, an interactive video engine that lets users plot their own path through a selection of online videos. But it has replaced almost everything else. That includes its old name (PermissionTV), its old CEO (Bob Lentz), and its old business model. The old plan was to build interactive sites for customers with a wealth of video to share, such as Bob Vila, the Boston Pops, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic.

When I last wrote about the company in July 2008, it had just released a development kit intended to allow Web publishers to build their own complex, video-driven sites similar to this one from Intercontinental Hotels, and had recently raised $3 million from BlueCrest Capital Finance, bringing its total funding to some $18 million. But that software kit, and the one-off sites PermissionTV was building as a service for its high-profile clients, just weren’t taking off as intended, Pollan told me in an interview yesterday.

VisibleGains' CEO Cliff Pollan“We were getting wonderful feedback from clients about the experience, but it wasn’t clear that media companies or large consumer brands would get that level of value out of what we were building,” Pollan says. “So we felt after a bunch of research and talking to a lot of people and potential customers that the business-to-business space was the place where interactive video—which you can use to tell a great story—was an appropriate technology.”

In short, while PermissionTV’s interactive videos wowed everyone who saw them, the people who really cared enough to pay for the technology were sales and marketing executives. Hence the overhaul of the company’s technology platform (it’s now an entirely cloud-based, Software as a Service offering) and today’s rebranding of the company as VisibleGains.The name refers to video’s purported ability to increase “conversions,” or the number of visitors to a company’s website who become actual customers.

To fund the relaunch, the company has raised more capital from existing investors Point Judith Capital and Castile Ventures, but it hasn’t said yet how much.

To understand what VisibleGains’ customers can build using the technology, think “Choose Your Own Adventure” meets The platform is designed to … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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