Sunday, February 28, 2010

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.