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Al Gore-backed VideoSurf generating buzz

In video search, competition is wide open. A new company--set to launch at TechCrunch50--wants to seize the opportunity. Problem is nobody knows if it works yet.

Let's face it: Video search blows. It's easy to use YouTube's search box to find straightforward Internet video memes like cats playing pianos, skateboard tricks, or Rick Astley remixes; try for anything more intricate and you might be out of luck. There are established companies in the space, like the U.K.-based Blinkx, but none of them has captured the market share that video search potentially could.

Enter VideoSurf, a company launching later on Wednesday at the TechCrunch50 conference that's been getting a choice spot in the tech-blogger limelight thanks to a Los Angeles Times preview.

VideoSurf CEO Lior Delgo told the Times that instead of only being able to search text tags and descriptions, the company's search technology goes frame-by-frame to recognize specific people. Additionally, VideoSurf says it has already indexed multiple video sites, from hubs like YouTube and Hulu to the digital libraries of networks like Comedy Central and ESPN. The company has attracted investment funding from former Vice President Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, the co-founders of Current Media; Hyatt is chairman of VideoSurf's board of directors.

But there's a caveat: nobody in the tech press has actually seen this company in action yet. Search Engine Land was very impressed by a demo, calling the company "genuinely radical," but doesn't appear to have done anything hands-on. The last shadowy video company that was this hyped was arguably Joost, which is still trying to stay afloat after failing to catch on. So don't count the chickens before they hatch, even if we're talking about a grainy cell phone camera video of chickens playing "Never Gonna Give You Up" on a piano.