Fresh off video spying scandal, Patriots owners invest in 'media discovery'

How's this for gridiron irony? The owners of the New England Patriots -- infamous of late for having been found illegally taping an opponents' game signals -- are sinking $10 million into a "media discovery platform" that promises to, among other things, find just what you want in a big pile of video.

Whether NFL Commissioner Roger Godell will be demanding that the Patriots IT department cough up any beta code remains to be seen.

Debuting tomorrow at DEMOfall07 here in San Diego, a company called Matchmine and its Media Discovery Platform are enjoying the celebrity attraction that comes with backing from The Kraft Group, holding company for various businesses owned by Patriots patriarch Robert Kraft and his family.

Unfortunately for Matchmine, that celebrity has taken on somewhat of a Britneyesque hue since news broke that the Patriots had been flaunting NFL rules that prohibit the videotaping of an opponents' coaching staff during a game. … Which isn't to say that the startup is likely to return the $10 million.

Matchmine decribes its product as "an expression of  a user's personal interests and tastes that they can take with them from site to site … the matchmine platform enables users to obtain personalized recommendations for movies, music and other online content from any matchmine Certified Partner on any Internet-connected device."

As for why the Kraft family, which made its first fortune in the paper goods industry, would be investing in such a geeky venture, Jonathan Kraft, CEO of The Kraft Group, tells the Boston Globe that the Patriots were "the first pro sports team to have their own Web page; tech is just something the group has always been involved in. … When we come across an idea we like, we'll put the capital in."

They do like their technology, that's for certain.

As for Matchmine, they won't hit the DEMO stage until tomorrow morning but early reviews have been mixed, with some seeing great promise in the technology and others seeing reheated leftovers.

(Full disclosure: I am a lifelong Patriots fan and longtime, albeit former, season ticket holder. At last night's DEMO welcome reception, I ran into a public relations representative for Matchmine who lost me at the word "platform" but did seem willing to arrange a meeting between the Patriots brass and me at which I might plead my utterly meritless case for reinstatement of my revoked season tickets. Guess that won't be happening now.)

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