Sunday, February 28, 2010

CEO Conversations: Ron Yekutiel, Kaltura - Part 4, Kaltura's Business Model

In part four of my CEO Conversation, Ron Yekutiel talks about Kaltura's business model. With the conversations so far, Kaltura's offerings and market position may have sounded more like a kumbaya for open source video – but Kaltura does have successful revenue streams from from both licensing their video SaaS platform and from professional services. According to the most recent customer data, over 48,000 web sites are powered by Kaltura's open source platform. In their most recent announcement last week, Kaltura will be partnering with nacamar, one of the leading streaming and media hosting providers in Germany, to offer Kaltura's video management solution to broadcasters, publishers, content providers, multimedia agencies, enterprises and educational institutions in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Larry Kless: So far, you've talked about all these free tools, but what is Kaltura's business model? How does Kaltura make its money?

Ron Yekutiel: Like I said before, there's no dissonance between doing good and doing well, and whilst it's an open source model – it's a distribution strategy, it's a development strategy, it's a philosophical strategy but it doesn't take away from Kaltura's ability to make money, and make money in a good way. The way we been doing so, we've been growing and we've been doing tremendously well by way of our economic situation is by selling:

A) Support and maintenance packages on top of the free community edition. So if you'd like to get Kaltura support and to ensure that you get debugged versions, the most advanced versions going forward, etc. you could join us and pay, that's number one. If you recall I mentioned the build vs. buy conundrum, by dropping the price to zero and getting it for free you definitely free up a lot of funds, you can come back and pay a part of it and say, "I want to ensure that I continue to have that freedom, flexibility control etc. and pay Kaltura to enable that." We didn't invent this model, it's been tremendously successful, like I said companies like a Red Hat, or like MySQL that have created significant business models out of that.

The second is professional development, professional support. Some companies come to us and asked Kaltura to develop stuff and we're definitely happy to so on their behalf. But that's only one half of the story. The second half is a classics SaaS model, and the truth is, until today 35,000 of the sites have connected to our SaaS offering.

Not just to the open source which we've just released the back end of which, it and in future turns out that 80% of our customers have expressed an interest to actually come and receive digital services from Kaltura – and the reason is that whilst you offer them complete freedom from vendor lock in and control and everything else, often they want to keep that is a real option, but still execute those several things from the sole vendor and it's always best to do with that single shop environment, the company that you've used the platform of because they tend to be the most expert in the field and for sure in the Kaltura standpoint, we're also the fastest growing therefore we have the largest amount of sites, economies of scale associated with that, the largest network for SEO purposes etc. etc., so there's all these reasons – and what are these SaaS packages?

Again – streaming, hosting, content delivery aggregation, advertising, syndication, search engine optimization – all these different things. So, the second half of what I said earlier around the classical open source model are companies coming back to Kaltura to say, "I will pay you this monthly package. We'll do that for a two-year or one-year contract", and this is how much they're going to pay based on gigabytes etc. etc. And whilst we offer they are the lowest price in market aligned with our open source strategy and philosophy of commoditizing the market in enabling the most amount of value for the least amount, we are still making wonderful money over there at the same time that we provide tremendous value and the best value to our customers. So we have a little but of both, and let's remember that we have these two things in a huge installed base of opportunity, it is not any more limited to the media and entertainment, and it's now getting into these new verticals that I have just mentioned.

So Kaltura has the makings of a billion-dollar company. Not different than other successful open source companies across very successful verticals, and since video is such a huge play – it's going to become part of just about everything on the web – there is that placeholder for an open source company to take a significant lion's share of the industry. For the reasons I mentioned, and to make make significant revenues out of both support and recurring digital services out of which.

This concludes this installment of CEO Conversations with Ron Yekutiel, see Part One here, Part Two here and Part Three here. My thanks to Ron Yekutiel for taking the time to speak with me, and thanks to Lisa Bennett for all the background material and information on Kaltura.

Thanks as well to Nathan Steiner at PLYmedia Inc. for the help with the free automatic transcriptions of this series of videos.

CEO Conversations: Ron Yekutiel, Kaltura - Part 3, Kaltura and the Open Source Video Movement

In part three of my CEO Conversation with Ron Yekutiel, he talks about how Kaltura is playing a key role in the open source video movement – with the goal to democratize rich media on web. Ron noted that when they first built the company, it was with that larger vision. He likens Kaltura to other successful open source companies, such as RedHat Linux or MySQL. Kaltura is a founding member of the Open Video Alliance, a coalition of organizations and individuals devoted to creating and promoting free and open technologies, policies, and practices in online video and they held their inaugural event in June 2009. Kaltura has been partnering with the Wikimedia Foundation to bring rich media collaboration to Wikipedia and other wiki websites, in a project was two years ago.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Larry Kless: What is Kaltura's big picture for democratizing rich media on the web?

Ron Yekutiel: Kaltura has initiated and started an organization called the open video alliance. Together with partner organizations such as the Participatory Culture Foundation that have a product called Miro, and organizations and universities like Yale with their ISP program, like Harvard, organizations like iCommons which are managing creative commons which is a license scheme, Mozilla, which brought us Firefox, the foundation behind Wikipedia, which brought us the free and largest encyclopedia in the world, and all of us together have formed a coalition, whose mandate is to help provide openness around rich media on the web.

What does that mean?

Technology, like open encoders such as Ogg Theora or in a flexible, free environment HTML5 running and use Firefox 3.5, but also complete video management tools like Kaltura, which include all the layers that a video management platform has – from configuring your player, configuring your playlist, configuring your galleries, enabling asset management of the back end, statistics, analytics, connection to advertising, syndication, and then enabling users
to upload, search and export user generated content, edit and remix all these different layers we've also provided as open source.

But that is only one component, the second component of the open video alliance is not just a technology, but is a social reform. It is trying to pitch these ideas in projects, such as open source cinema, which is a remix open environment that puts a video that enables people to remix, add under Creative Commons licenses – and the think tanks around how we democratize media across different organizations.

We had our first event earlier this year, a thousand people attended – great for a first event and we're planning a follow up event. One of the biggest, or most important, I believe in the the near future releases is our project with Wikipedia, with the foundation, which would basically turn the largest encyclopedia today, available on the web from a simple text encyclopedia into a rich environment. We, using Kaltura and the foundation will enable the mass peer produced creation of rich media similar to how it's produced today by way of text.

Larry Kless: You've described the value of open source video for publishers, but what is the value of open source video for consumers?

Ron Yekutiel: In so far as consumers, I think the main value is not the idea of open source, rather what results out of it, which in our case is the wealth of innovation that comes from the community. We have all these new extensions that have been created like I said, for a leading learning management systems, into the healthcare into content management into enterprise collaboration, all of which existing on org site and you can now use it for free, and in result what it enables us to do in a fraction of the time, in fraction of the resources is to create this marketplace of additional applications are contributed by the masses.

Open source puts down or tears down the walled gardens and enables everybody to take part in the creation, and for everybody to share – and then in result, each one can take the value that you can. There's no dissonance between doing good and doing well and in fact, Kaltura is a commercial company and I'd be happy to say where we make our money.

But the way to achieve that is by actually having a lot of penetration into a lot of different markets and share the pool of knowledge, and back to your question – the wealth of feature sets that we provide today by way of user generated, participatory, enabling uploading, editing, remixing, we have an application that aligns Powerpoint together with video and there's so many additional stuff that come up every day that, that will be the result, just the same way that most people use Firefox because they perceive it to be as good if not better than Internet Explorer. Or just because enterprises use Linux because of they believe that it is more reliable, strong and capable than Microsoft alternative – we would like to have people use the Kaltura infrastructure in the resulting application, and not just because of the theory behind it but because the actual value, and I can assure you that the 35,000 publishers that have joined over the last months alone have not done so because of and that seems to be because of ideology. They've done so exactly because of that, it just gives them the best value in price point with the most amount of flexibility in the most secure fashion.

Larry Kless: What has surprised you about how your open source offering has been received by the market?

Ron Yekutiel: Some would argue that an open source company could only be formed when the market is really very ripe, and has been there for a long time and could argue that video is maybe just here recently, and there's still an infancy in this market – we have found the exact opposite. First, you know the the markets are running faster today than they have ever been and that's just the way the Internet grows, but I've found that everybody has been sitting and waiting for this and they're now just consuming it like crazy. That build vs. buy conundrum, all these people that have been forced to build their own solution and no longer want to do that are eager to have a solution that they can build upon, as opposed to buy, and it is just been way easier than I thought to penetrate, but this doesn't take away from the amount of work we need to do and of the size of the opportunity we need to capture, and for the work ahead of us. But I've been elated to see how quick this is catching on how the value proposition comes across.

End of Part Three of CEO Conversations with Ron Yekutiel, stay tuned for the Fourth and final installment.

See Part One here and Part Two here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

CEO Conversations: Ron Yekutiel, Kaltura - Part 2: Kaltura's Value Proposition is "Truly Disruptive"

In part two of my CEO Conversation with Ron Yekutiel, he describes the disruption that Kaltura caused within the online video market with the release of Kaltura's Community Edition, a free and self-hosted version of Kaltura's Video Management Platform, which was announced at the OSCON Open Source Convention in July 2009. In an industry that has been fairly commoditized in a competition based mainly on feature sets and price, Kaltura comes to the space with a completely different value proposition which Ron asserts is "truly disruptive" – and he makes a strong case for Kaltura's unique offering, for publishers faced with the build vs. buy conundrum.

Ron discusses the value of Kaltura's open source Community Edition as a way for publishers who built their own solutions to take the entire code base an put it behind their own firewall, customize it and integrate it with their existing legacy systems. He differentiates Kaltura from other "closed" SaaS offerings even if they have open APIs are still focused on providing a given application, in most cases primarily for media and entertainment.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsfree video player

Larry Kless: Can you discuss the recent announcement at OSCON of Kaltura's Community Edition and how you see it as disruptive for the online video space?

Ron Yekutiel: So Kaltura was formed about 2 years ago and we had initiated or launched our first product about a year and a half ago, and initially what we have done is provided SaaS similar to other companies but the client software that we had released was completely open source. What that effectively meant was that companies would be able to integrate our tools in a much easier way because the code was available, and we've provided also the SaaS offering at the lowest price on the market. So they had received more, for less and were able to integrate that into other 3rd part platforms beyond media and entertainment – integrated into content management systems, integrated into e-Learning, integrated in health care solutions, etc.

What happened this week was very important and extremely disruptive for the market, and we had announced the release of our Community Edition. Kaltura's Community Edition is the back end, the server side of our video management platform. what is in charge of encoding, data management, statistics and analytics, etc. – and today coupled with a client and the back end side, both of which released, both of which available – customers, publishers could download the entire toolkit and not use Kaltura's services. In fact, they could self-host it if they wish, put it behind their own firewall and get the entire thing for free without any vendor lock in. Be that vendor lock in for Kaltura or vendor lock for any other vendor. What does treat actually mean? and by that we'll really understand the value of the open source move here.

Until now, publishers have had two main dilemmas – do they build or do they buy?

The overwhelming majority have built solutions – meaning, they would use Windows Media, or they would use Flash to create their own environment. Small sites did that because it was cheaper. Big sites did that because that wanted to remain in control – they didn't want to give their content to any SaaS provider – and they also want to be able to enhance feature sets whenever they like. Or to really customize it to greater extent than possible with some of the APIs out there. So again, most actually chose to build.

Some actually went a buying option, and the only alternatives to date were these SaaS vendors. Kaltura breaks the build vs. buy conundrum. Our platform enables the companies that have built – not to start from scratch. Which was the biggest problem, since you needed to have required domain expertise to create the level of solutions that our companies have provided to the industry. Now they can take the Kaltura co debase, build upon it, or even just use it as is, keeping all of the benefits that they had in the build option – which are:
  • The ability to put it behind your own firewall, in your own secured environment
  • The ability to enhance it to a much greater degree
  • The ability to integrate it into with your 3rd party legacy systems as you wish
  • And, at the lowest price point possible, which is free, it doesn't get lower than that.
So when you add all these compelling offerings, Kaltura provides more, it provides it cheaper , and it provide it in a more secure fashion for the publishers – and as such is truly disruptive. To date we have seen our SaaS offering used by about 35,000 sites already. In the very new release of our Community Edition has already been adopted by than 1,000 websites already in the alpha stage – among them are top universities, top security and defense environments, health care organizations, etc. We have had a dozen or so different integrations point created on top of Kaltura, with and that I'd like to emphasize one additional point.

The closed SaaS offering, even if they have an open API are still focused on providing a given application, in this primarily media and entertainment. Because Kaltura is so open flexible and could be completely self-hosted,we are not an application, rather a toolkit or a Swiss army knife that enables 3rd parties to build applications on top of us. We are one step higher, if you may, in the value chain than the rest of the existing closed application sets – and the vision of the company eventually, where today there is in the open source world a LAMP stack. Which comprises of Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP and all that's required to have robust enterprise-grade open source functionalities, is add that K into the LAMP stack – a KLAMP stack, if you may. "

Assuming that every web service, every web product – from CRM to ERP to enterprise collaboration, etc. – would need to have a component around rich media, we are the building block that enables them to build that, and to own that, and to service that, and that is truly disruptive in an industry that until now has been fairly commoditized in a competition that's been predominantly based on feature sets and price, we have come with a completely different value proposition, and we're really excited about this disruption.

End of Part Two of CEO Conversations with Ron Yekutiel, stay tuned for Part Three.

See Part One

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CEO Conversations: Ron Yekutiel, Kaltura's Open Video Architect

Ron Yekutiel stands tall among the competition, and aside from the fact that he's over 6 feet tall, he's the Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Kaltura, the first and only open source online video platform. I spoke with Ron several months ago about the growth of his company from its initial inception as a collaborative video toolset, to where it is now as a leading online video platform in a crowded market. Kaltura's SaaS platform includes, streaming and hosting, ad serving, content syndication, and aggregation of related third party services, as well as maintenance, support, integration and professional services.

Kaltura is a founding member of the Open Video Alliance, a coalition of organizations and individuals devoted to creating and promoting free and open technologies, policies, and practices in online video. As part of Kaltura's larger vision to democratize rich media on the web, the company shook up the online video industry in July 2009 at the OSCON Open Source Convention, with the release of the Kaltura Community Edition - a self-hosted, community supported version of Kaltura's Video Management Platform completely for free. Kaltura has received numerous awards including the TechCrunch40 People's Choice award, Mashable's ‘Open Web' award, Microsoft's 2009 'most promising Israeli web startup' award, AlwaysOn's ‘top 250 startup' and 'top 100 media company' awards and was recently named one of the IDC Top 10 Innovative Applications Companies to Watch. The company recently integrated with a number of technology partners like LongTail Video, Artivision, Mzinga and released open source extensions for Joomla! and Moodle

In the recent research report, The Forrester Wave™: US Online Video Platforms, Q4 2009, that compared six of the leading online video platforms, Forrester Research Analyst Bobby Tsulani defined Kaltura as a "Strong Performer" that offers strong differentiated options.
"Kaltura offers a highly differentiated video platform option, which allows organizations to fully own the open source code at no charge. The company also impresses with pioneering user-generated video that allows viewers to remix video clips. Additionally, the open community at provides a great resource for innovation and sharing in development. As a newer entrant to the market, Kaltura has started with a solid entry; if it can buttress its monetization and reporting capabilities, it will certainly compete with the market leaders."
This is part one of a series of interviews with Ron, presented in this installment of CEO Conversations.

Larry Kless: What is Kaltura?

Ron Yekutiel: Kaltura is the first open source video management platform on the web. It opens up video similar to how Mozilla had opened up browsers with Firefox, or how Linux had opened up their operating system vis-a-vis Microsoft, and we bring that degree of openness into the world. What it effectively means is that we've released the entire code that would enable users to have, if you may, a Brightcove in a box or an Ooyala in a box, or thePlatform in a box, or anyone of these dozens of vendors out there that are proprietary, completely for free and in their hands to control.

Larry Kless: What have you heard most from your customers, in terms of what they're wanting and needing to be successful?

Ron Yekutiel: We had initially started Kaltura and its first step was more of a collaborative platform. We've started by enabling these advanced cutting-edge Web 2.0 feature sets, like remixing and uploading, and it was not just user generated content, it was letting users manipulate even rich media, but it's on the site, so it's the participatory and the collaborative feature sets.

And what we had learned through the course of the last year and half was as much as people see that as the future, and as much as that is required across almost every vertical in every direction, they still miss the plain cake, not just the icing, that includes the asset management, the configuration of the player, the configuration of the metadata, integration of the metadata with their taxonomy around other infrastructure that they have, the syndication and statistics analytics and reporting, all these different things and that's exactly why we had over the course the year and a half enhanced and have become a complete and full video management platform because we seized the opportunity and the need and the clear requirements and demands of the publishers out there to get that.

Larry Kless: What more can we expect to see from Kaltura in the coming year?

Ron Yekutiel: Until now, whilst all our tools were open they were just the client-side, so there was no ability to have complete self-hosting, and a lot of value proposition that I've just mentioned were not there. We had planned all along to release that backend from the day that we started our company, it was waiting for us in the right and the right place and had indeed done so. And right now in OSCON is were we had actually launched that, that means that over the course of the second half of the year a lot of the focus is all geared towards roping in the community, and now that have a complete full and robust open source offering to give them, to ask back - to ask back not for Kaltura - to ask back for all of us, for the community to continue to support, to enhance, to give, to contribute. Until now we've had tremendous support but I think it dwarfs the amount of support we'll be seeing in the future and I'm happy that through places like the Open Video Alliance, we have partnerships Mozilla and large other successful, thriving communities that appreciate and want that enhancements that we to offer, and are building upon it and pushing with it and together with them, arm in arm, we will create way more applications.

So you'll see a lot more focus around community building. But that again is a mean. The result out of that would be a wealth of applications shared in an environment called an application exchange on the website. Which would mean that now we may have a dozen applications and we would hope to have hundreds eventually, or thousands of different applications, all of which geared to different platforms and different functionalities in different places and kinds of use with new widgets around rich media, all of which is available under the open source license. And, therefore all of which would be available to anybody to use, and that's the second part of this year we expect to have even greater growth than we've had for each new extension that we have comes a wealth of a new market to approach. So we've just gotten into the eLearning space and we have tons of universities down our way. We just got into the enterprise world there is many enterprises and organizations out there, and the same goes with healthcare so it's definitely definitely exponential.

So the future of the video is getting into all these other verticals, I think media and entertainment are going to grow tremendously, double-digit like it's grown. But the green pastures, the blue oceans are in all these other places, in the enterprise, in distance learning, in the remote healthcare and all these environments. And by providing the toolkits for these industries to build their own solutions you can get there, where you could not have done that before by providing closed system that was offered to them to date.

So I believe that, that would be the future of rich media on the net and that Kaltura would take a significant role in enabling that.

End of Part One of CEO Conversations with Ron Yekutiel, stay tuned for Part Two.

About Ron Yekutiel
Ron is a serial technology entrepreneur starting companies in Israel, US, and Canada in the fields of Internet, mobile applications, and security. He holds an MBA with honors from the Wharton School of Business majoring both in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management. According to his bio, Ron is also a former helicopter pilot, loves traveling to authentic locations (Papua New Guinea and the Amazon are his favorites) and being breathless – shark feeding scuba diving, parachuting, bungee jumping etc.

About Kaltura
Kaltura provides the world's first Open Source Online Video Platform. Over 48,000 web publishers, integrators, and application developers use our flexible platform to add advanced video and photo functionalities including uploading, importing, editing, annotating, remixing, publishing, syndicating, searching, monetizing, and monitoring. Founded in 2006, Kaltura's open source code is available as a free Software Development Kit and as downloadable plugins for leading platforms, including content management (Drupal, Joomla, Alfresco), blogging (WordPress, BuddyPress), collaboration (MediaWiki, TikiWiki), enterprise (MindTouch, Elgg), and education (Moodle, Sakai). Kaltura's SaaS platform includes, streaming and hosting, ad serving, content syndication, and aggregation of related third party services, as well as maintenance, support, integration and professional services. Kaltura's self-hosted platform is offered as a free community edition, and as an enterprise edition under a commercial license.

Since its public launch, New York-based Kaltura has won numerous awards and endorsements, including the coveted TechCrunch40 People's Choice award, Mashable's ‘Open Web' award, Microsoft's 2009 'most promising Israeli web startup' award, AlwaysOn's ‘top 250 startup' and 'top 100 media company' awards, LeWeb's ‘top 30 web startup' award, the Open World Forum ‘Open Innovation' award, Esquire Magazine's ‘8 most promising Web 3.0 companies', TV Week's ‘5 most promising video startups for 2009', and IDC's ‘top 10 innovative application companies'. Kaltura is also a founding member of the ‘Open Video Alliance' (, a coalition of organizations dedicated to fostering open infrastructure, tools, and standards for online video. For more information: and

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Online Video Gets Serious in 2010, and it's only the Beginning

With almost two months into 2010, the daily news feeds have been filled with updates on the online video space. From funding announcements, M&As, new product and service rollouts, broad market expansion, rapid innovation, and consolidation within the space — it's an industry that is maturing into a serious business, as both the consumption and production of video on the web transitions to mobile devices and broadband-enabled televisions. According to comScore, over a billion videos were consumed daily in December for whopping 33 billion views in the US, and there's no sign of it slowing down. Leading online video platform providers have expanded into new markets, and enhanced their cloud-based video SaaS offerings for delivery to all consumer electronics devices.

But with all the push, there's also been pull and with any market — startups rise and fall, and supply and demand dictate the terms of who survives in the changing environment. Advertisers are still not convinced that online video is the holy grail, and according to eMarketer, companies have yet to convert their spend of about $70 billion they're currently spending on TV advertising to online advertising.

More signs of compression within the space were seen last week, when we saw the first online video platform literally put itself on the auction block, with SesameVault selling itself on eBay (item 160405185640) with a starting bid of $500,000, with no takers so far. In addition, Ryan Lawler reported on the fall of Move Networks as Fox dropped Move Networks for Brightcove, Adobe Flash, and Dan Rayburn covered the news that Swarmcast laid off half of company, and changed focus to target CE devices.

On funding trends, Will Richmond has been tracking the money flowing into online video companies and he called February "a red-hot month" for online video financing. He noted financing rounds just in the last week for Clicker ($11M), YuMe ($25M), TidalTV ($16M) and Vook ($2.5M), adding to those previously announced: ($1.25M), IVT ($5.5M), Voddler ($3.5M), BrightRoll ($10M) and the big whopper of the month Ustream ($75M) though in two tranches. In 2009, he tracked 64 companies which raised close to $470 million, and so far in 2010, the total funding is just short of $150M.

The momentum is building for paid video content models and battles lines are drawn between HTML5, Flash, Silverlight and H.264, and as Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire said, the future of web content and mobile apps is really about the Internet’s dominant platform companies — Apple, Adobe, Google and Microsoft — trying to push their value proposition for broader adoption, and we've only seen the beginning.

Before the year marches on any further, here are some highlights of significant online video news stories so far in 2010.

Industry News, Online Video Advertising and Marketing
Online Video Platform and Related News
The State of Online Video
Update 2/22/10 - In an article today, Digital Marketing Guide: Video - Advertising Age - Digital, Michael Learmonth noted that spending on web video advertising may increase by 50%. eMarketer and Piper Jaffray are putting the online video advertising market at or around $1.5B, up from $1.1B in 2009.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Google Finally Acquires On2, What's Next for Online Video?

After many long months and several offers increasing their bid, Google has won over the On2 shareholders with an additional $26.5 million on top of their original $106.5 million to purchase On2 for $133 million, in a merger deal that should close the by end of day Friday. The saga of this acquisition dates back to August 2009, when Google announced that they would acquire New York-based video codec maker On2 Technologies f0r $106.5 million, but the search Goliath was met with their own modern-day version of David, in the form of defiant On2 shareholders who refused to agree to the terms of the sale.

An outspoken group of stockholders protested "the attempted theft of the company at $0.60 per share" and believed that On2 was worth more than 60 cents a share. They held out for many months as Google upped the offer several times, with the final offer last month of $133 million, that was approved by a majority of On2 stockholders today. On2 shareholders will receive 1/1000th of a share of Google stock, plus 15 cents per share. Google (GOOG) stocks are currently trading at $538 a share.

With all the recent debate on the future of web video, Flash vs. HTML5 and open video formats, H.264 licensing fee extension, and the coming mobile explosion of 2010 - now that Google has finalized this deal, how disruptive will it to the online video landscape?

In a previous post, I asked that same question:
"There's been a lot of speculation that Google is purchasing On2 to take advantage of the advanced V7 and V8 codecs for either open source the codecs and make them license-free. Such a move would create serious competition to the other major video compression technologies of H.264, Flash and Silverlight all of which are proprietary codecs. Could Google be looking to to avoid the licensing fees for H.264? Will Google open source On2's technology to disrupt HTML5? Is Google looking to bake the high quality video compression technology into YouTube to speed up videos and lower bandwidth costs?
This all sounds like a big deal that's going to give Google the edge to disrupt the fabric of the online video landscape and "win the online video format war" and with the acquisition Google acquires technology that it can embed within its Android and Chrome OS platforms. This may cause companies like Adobe, Microsoft and Apple to take a financial hit and force them to support whatever new video codec that Google brings to market. Also, with the situation regarding browser-based decoding for tag in HTML5 at a stalemate and undefined, Google could help change the tide by open sourcing On2 VP technology."
I also cited a number of sources in that post who shared their theories on the acquisition, such as Dan Rayburn who didn't think it would be a big deal, Om Malik who said to pay attention to what Google does with Android, and Brian Dipert who thought that it could be Google's latest move to wrest control from Adobe, Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla.

For now, we can only speculate what Google will do next with On2's video compression technology, but this could prove to be a major game-changer in online video landscape and the mobile frontier. 2010 is shaping up to be quite an interesting year so far.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Brightcove To Power Mobile Video Explosion, Announces Mobile Experience for Flash Player 10.1

Brightcove has upped the ante again, announcing support for the upcoming release of Adobe's Flash Player 10.1 with its Mobile Experience for Flash 10.1, an optimized mobile version of the company’s cloud-based online video platform. Introduced today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the move helps Brightcove's customers extend the reach of their video content to a range of mobile smartphone platforms that will run the forthcoming Flash Player 10.1, including Google Android, Symbian S60, Palm webOS, Windows Mobile and Research in Motion BlackBerry. Brightcove's implementation brings all the features and services of its platform - analytics, in video advertising, secure multi-bitrate streaming, and the more than 120 plugins available for the Brightcove platform, to these mobile phones for the first time.

The announcement builds on Brightcove's strategic alliance with Adobe, who officially announced Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe AIR for Android at the Mobile World Congress today. Adobe had previously made a beta of Flash Player 10.1 available to content providers and mobile developers worldwide. Flash Player 10.1 makes it possible for mobile platforms to run the standard Brightcove video player with the same features as desktop platforms. Jeff Whatcott, Senior vice president of Marketing, Brightcove said in an Adobe press release:
“We’re excited to extend Brightcove’s leading online video platform with support for Adobe Flash Player 10.1 and the new Brightcove Mobile Experience solution. Brightcove’s global customer base of more than 1,000 media companies and marketers now have a unified platform and turnkey solution for providing a high-quality, consistent online video experience across PCs and mobile devices.”
In this Beet.TV video, Jeff describes the capabilities and features of their new mobile optimized media player.

Brightcove customers already using the beta version of Brightcove's Mobile Experience for Flash 10.1 include AOL, Atlantic Records, La Vanguardia, National Geographic, The New York Times, STV, Sun Media and The Weinstein Company. The solution is available today in an invitation-only beta release and will be generally available later this year and provided free of charge to Brightcove's global customer base.

You can also watch the demo video below to see the solution in action.

The Brightcove solution implements three main features:
  1. Mobile player optimized templates - offering interface controls, gestures, and behaviors specifically designed for video viewing on compact, multi-touch smart phone screen. This allows for a seamless viewing experience and navigation on the small screen.
  2. Automatic device detection - helps deliver the right template to the right device for optimum playback environment between desktop and mobile player templates, along with video embedding best practices to assist organizations in delivering mobile video-ready websites.
  3. Cloud-based transcoding - H.264-encoded mobile ready video from any standard format source file.
According to a Strategy Analytics analysis from January 2010, more than 250 million smartphones are expected to support the full Flash Player by the end 2012. It's no surprise that the iPhone is missing from the list of supported mobile devices, since the iPhone and iPad don't support Flash. Brightcove has an iPhone SDK and with the open API, customers can write code for a HTML5 H.24 video player. Jeff Whattcott said that Brightcove is looking to make this easier for publishers in the future.

To learn more about the Brightcove Mobile Experience solution for Adobe Flash Player 10.1, read the full press release here or visit


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Veoh Enters the Deadpool, Leaves Blood in the Water

The news that the troubled online video sharing site Veoh has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to liquidate the business, doesn't come as a surprise to the many who had predicted its demise. Is it a sign of what's to come within the online video space in 2010? Commentary and analysis abound within the blogosphere on what made this promising startup fail, and how it burned through $70 million in venture funds. Founded in 2004, the San Diego, California-based company was an early entrant into the Internet television space and was once considered to be direct competitor with YouTube. Veoh launched an early beta of its distribution technology in late 2005 as "an open platform for content publishers of all sizes and sophistication who want to reach tomorrow's television audience" and had had big name financial backers like former Disney chairman Michael Eisner, Shelter Capital Partners, Spark Capital, Goldman Sachs, Adobe Systems, Intel Capital and Time Warner Investments. The site had 28 million users a month but was far from being a top online video content site, compared to Google's 135.8 million unique viewers who watched more than 13 billion videos on YouTube during the month of December 2009, according to comScore.

But as CEO Dmitry Shapiro said in a recent blog post, the lawsuit filed by Universal Music Group (UMG) for alleged copyright infringement, led in part to their demise along with the challenges of the broader macro-economic climate. While being a pioneer in the online video space, he admitted,
"Unfortunately, great vision, a passionate team, tens of millions of users, millions in revenues and victory in court were not enough."
Dan Rayburn pointed to a lack of focus and execution that led in part to Veoh's downfall. While the company had vision, it tried to be everything to everyone changing its business model many times and was unable to sustain a viable business.

According to Dan:
"Veoh never really executed a clear and concise business plan on what they were going to offer, what problem their platform would solve, or what the business model of the company was going to be. While all companies need to adapt their focus to try and stay in step with how the market evolves, Veoh always struggled to define who they were and what they were doing in the market"
At NewTeeVee, Ryan Lawler noted that despite raising ample funding and having solid search and recommendation technology, there were a number of reasons for what went wrong at Veoh. A few of the reason were, raising too much money, getting too big too fast, no strategic focus, requiring a client download, and turning its back its users.

Robert Sandie, co-founder and President of Viddler, wrote a thoughtful post outlining what
Viddler has built a sustainable business where others have failed. A few points he share were echoed by many other about keeping the business small and and eye on the bottom line, not raising too much money, keeping a strategic focus and optimizing the service.

Ben Homer wrote on Online Video Watch about Veoh's achievements:
"Veoh’s greatest contribution to online video space was its preemptive lawsuit against Universal Music Group later joined by DivX. At the time, few in the industry had the resources (or the balls) to take on an established media company. The successful outcome – the court upheld the company’s protection from lawsuit under the DMCA – meant it was far less likely for any other future lawsuit by an established rights holder against an online service provider – and there have been few similar suits since. Had these companies not been willing to put themselves fully into this fight the landscape of the industry would likely look very different today."

Mark Hall, founder and CEO of Vodpod didn't seem to think that Veoh's demise is particularly illustrative of any trend or a forecast of things to come.

In a guest post on NewTeeVee, Hall said:
"While it’s sad to see a site like Veoh come to an end, I don’t think it’s particularly illustrative of any trend or a forecast of anything to come. The storm clouds I see, and worry about, include a more fractured video environment due to HTML5 and lack of uniform support by the browsers for a single, standardized video codec; Apple’s intransigence on Flash on the iPhone and iPad, with the result that most of the video available today on the web is and will continue to be broken on those devices; and the lack of any clear path technically, right now, to replicate what is done with Flash video for both advertising and video sharing."
Like Joost, Maven Networks, The Feedroom*, and a long list of other promising and well-funded online video startups, Veoh joins The Deadpool and has left blood in the water, $70 Million to be exact. Veoh's story is an important lesson for any online video startup. Vision matched with a viable business plan, filling a market niche, execution and timing, product focus and listening to your customers are key ingredients to success.

*Update 2/13/10 9:26 PM: While the Feedroom is not officially in the The Deadpool, and was actually acquired by KIT Digital for $10 million in 10/09, the brand was retired in 12/09 after a successful consolidation and integration of the IP and resources. The company was a pioneer in the space and raised close to $70 million in funding over the course of 10 years, and met an untimely demise, which I think earns it an honorary place in The Deadpool.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Video Replay of "Reel” Video SEO Strategies & Best Practices Webinar

If you missed the Ooyala hosted video SEO best practices webinar from last week, you can now watch video recording. The webinar, "Reel” Video SEO Strategies & Best Practices, featured Mark Robertson, Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, Dr. Pete Kocks, President of Truveo and AOL Video, and Sean Knapp, Co-Founder and CTO of Ooyala. Mark provided an overview of what is video SEO, guidelines and best practices for hosted video, YouTube optimization and shared good and bad examples of video SEO. Pete covered video search optimization and the key differences between web search and video search. Sean talked about Ooyala’s new SDK release which helps helps increase visibility on search engines by creating rich on-page text for video landing pages.

The webinar was well attended and the feedback was very positive which is indicative of how much interest there is in video SEO.

As Mark says, it's not smoke and mirrors and,
"the value of video SEO lies in generating additional exposure through positioning relevant video content in front of a growing number of internet users who are actively seeking out that content using search. Just as with general SEO, Video SEO is about publishing content in a way that follows best practices to ensure and maximize indexability and discoverability."

Here's a link to Mark's presentation. You can also contact Mark through or hire him as a Video SEO consultant at

See the related post from the Online Video Platform Summit: Optimizing Video Search and Discoverability.

Thanks to Ooyala for hosting this free and very informative educational webinar.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Announcing the "Streaming Production & Flash Delivery” Workshop in NYC, March 23, 2010

Streaming media guru Jan Ozer and Flash expert Lisa Larson-Kelly are teaming up to present a one-day intensive workshop on “Streaming Production & Flash Delivery” to be held on March 23, 2010 in New York City. The workshop will feature two tracks, Streaming Production and Flash Delivery, each comprised of two ½ day courses. The workshop courses detail the complete streaming production and delivery workflow, from set design to Flash Media Server setup, from H.264 encoding to Flash Player creation. Jan Ozer, and Lisa Larson-Kelly are both recognized authors, experienced producers and frequent speakers at industry workshops hosted by organizations like and the Media Communications Association - International.

In his morning workshop "Streaming for Production", Jan will cover the creative techniques and tools to produce high quality video productions from cameras, lighting and audio. His afternoon session will focus on "Encoding H.264 Video for Flash, i-Pod/Phone/iPad and Silverlight" with in-depth review of the leading encoding applications, quality settings and workflow. Lisa will cover the technical end of things with a morning session “Flexible Protocols and Custom Player Development” which gets you up to speed on the various delivery methods now available in Flash (including adaptive streaming via HTTP Streaming, P2P via RTMFP) and custom video player development for both the programmer and the non-programmer using Open Source Media Framework. Then in the afternoon Lisa present a “Flash Media Server Crash Course” which will get you going with FMS on how to set up the server, what it can do, and how to do it.

Sign up now before it sells out… this is a one day training session, and there is limited seating!

DETAILS and REGISTRATION: Streaming Production & Flash Delivery Workshop – Eventbrite

Streaming Production Track

Production for Streaming
You can’t have high quality streaming video without high quality video – compression is only half the story. Video Production for Streaming is a focused ½ day course that details how to optimize set design, lighting, and other production techniques for streaming quality. The course will help beginners achieve competency at these skills, while helping experienced professionals new to streaming understand the unique issues related to streaming production.

The course will combine lecture with on-site demonstrations of all equipment discussed, from lighting and audio to cameras and microphones. This will take students “beyond the PowerPoint” and enable them to immediate apply the lessons. Students will be given checklists and procedures for most common tasks, and will return to their offices with the skills necessary to setup and shoot high quality for streaming delivery.

Encoding H.264 Video for Flash, i-Pod/Phone/iPad and Silverlight

H.264 has become the “it” codec, central to the three-screen strategy, but is confusing to produce, with obscure settings (B-frame pyramid?/CABAC?) and encoding interfaces (and output quality) that varies dramatically by encoding tool, plus a reputation for slow playback on some computers.

This seminar cuts through the confusion by describing the most common H.264 encoding parameters, detailing playback CPU load on a range of computers and delineating encoding requirements for computers and the iPod/iPhone/iPad trilogy. It then compares the output quality produced by tools like the Adobe Media Encoder, Apple Compressor, Sorenson Squeeze and Telestream Episode, and concludes by demonstrating how to encode into H.264 format with these tools.

Overall, students will walk away understanding:
  • The performance, quality and compatibility implications of all H.264 encoding parameters,
  • How to produce for and deliver to Apple’s iPod/iPhone/iPad,
  • How to configure H.264 video for optimum quality/playback smoothness on a range of computers
  • Which encoding tools produce the best quality H.264
  • How to encode to H.264 format using Apple Compressor, Adobe Media Encoder, Sorenson Squeeze, and Rhozet Carbon Coder.

Flash Delivery Track

Flash Delivery: Flexible Protocols and Custom Player Development

In this intensive half-day workshop, students will gain the information and tools needed to plan and deploy web video applications. First, they will learn how to deliver optimized, high quality content with the Flash Platform’s flexible delivery protocols. The pros and cons of progressive delivery, RTMP streaming, and the new adaptive streaming solution in Flash Player 10.1 will be covered, helping to choose the best delivery method for specific audiences. File format details, content preparation tools and workflows will be discussed.

Once students have a clear understanding of optimum delivery methods, we will outline the options for building custom media players. We’ll focus on the Open Source Media Framework, with an overview of its structure and ActionScript classes, along with hands-on examples to get started with the framework. Students will walk away with a basic custom player and an understanding of how to use the framework to build both simple no-code players and complex interactive players that leverage analytics, advertising, and social media APIs.

Flash Delivery: Flash Media Server Crash Course
Flash Media Server Flash Media Server Flash Media Live Encoder

Over 75% of web video today is delivered on the Flash Platform. Flash Media Server (FMS) is Adobe’s streaming server that is powering this content delivery. The latest version of FMS provides robust, scalable live and on-demand streaming, along with powerful features such as real-time interaction, Dynamic Streaming, DVR functionality, smart buffering and more.

Students in this ½ day course will gain a deeper understanding of how the server works, what it can do, and how to deploy streaming media applications that leverage its features. Students will install the Flash Media Development Server on their laptops, set up their first live broadcast, and even see how easy it is to create a custom 2-person videoconference.

Advanced students will learn how to integrate streaming and interaction into their applications, while beginners will leverage the tools and built-in services that ship with FMS, along with time-saving third-party tools, to learn about the server and how to get started streaming. Students will walk away with real hands-on experience with streaming on the Flash

About the instructors

Jan Ozer has produced and encoded video since the CD-ROM days (1992) and has taught courses in video and streaming production since 1994, most recently for the MCA-I and at Streaming Media Seminars in New York, San Jose and London, and for private organizations like Cisco, Lockheed and Johns Hopkins University.

Jan has written many authoritative articles on streaming technologies for outlets like, Digital Content Producer, and EventDV. In January, 2006, Jan released two white papers through, Choosing and Using the Optimal Video Codec, and Choosing and Using the Optimal Flash Codec. In 2007, he released Critical Skills for Streaming Producers, a mixed media training DVD with a mix of PDF, screencam and streaming video sample files.

Jan has written or co-authored 14 books on digital video related topics, including the Hands-On Guide to Flash Video: Web Video and Flash Media Server, with Stefan Richter. One Amazon reviewer commented “From lighting techniques, to what not to wear, to Flash Media Server, this book has it all. … the chapters on compression and bandwidth are excellent.” Another said “For videographers, this is your bible on how to capture video for Flash. For video editors, this is your bible on how to prepare and compress the files.”

Jan also shoots, edits and produces DVDs and streaming media for concerts, ballets and other events, produces training videos for local artisans, and screencam presentations for multiple organizations, including Roxio, ProDad, EventDV and ViewCast. Jan’s blog is

Lisa Larson-Kelley began her career in print design, but was soon lured to digital media by a little application called Flash 4. In addition to hands-on development projects, she enjoys writing and teaching, with a knack for breaking down complex concepts and making them accessible. She has worked with many video-centric start-ups as well as companies like Adobe, Microsoft and L’Oreal. She has authored whitepapers, tutorials and e-seminars for Adobe, editorials and features for; and co-authored the book Flash Video for Professionals (Wiley/Sybex, 2007). An Adobe Community Professional, Lisa speaks at numerous industry conferences and user groups around the world, and is a founding member of the FlashCodersNY study group.

Lisa is currently consulting, teaching, and blogging about Flash video, web development and life (just outside) the big city on her blog, — and along with her husband Tom, is raising a healthy, happy daughter (who has an unnatural affinity for all things digital).