Online video is changing rapidly. How people watch, where they watch and what they do while watching is altering the landscape at an alarming rate, and companies have to fight to keep up. One of the companies that helps companies, both big and small, to navigate the always-shifting video landscape is Brightcove, a media publisher for cloud-based video and apps.
I recently spoke to Allaire about how online video platforms are changing, the war between HTML 5 and Native, and what he learned founding his first company when he was just in his 20's.
What is Brightcove and what does it do?
Brightcove is a provider of cloud content services and products, which are used to publish and distribute professional digital media, including both videos and apps. Brightcove offers secure content, advertising and analytics to professional publishers.
The company’s products include Video Cloud and App Cloud, as well as Zencoder, a leading cloud-based media processing service and HTML5 video player technology provider, which Brightcove acquired in July for $30 million.
Allaire says that Brightcove is the only company to provide a platform for both video and app publishing, though video is the core business, and the company has only recently gotten into apps, so there is a lot to still be done on that front.
Boston-based Brightcove is used on over 10,000 web properties. It has more than 6,100 customers, which Allaire says are both big and small, in over 60 countries.
There are three tiers of customer for Brightcove: the thousands of small businesses that use Brightcove, including law firms and nonprofits; the hundreds to thousands of midsize businesses; and the hundreds of large, global companies, such as Viacom and NBC.
While there is a wide range of customers using the service, ahat all of these companies have in common, Allaire said, is that that are all seeing huge benefits from video, which is driving activity, since people stay on the site longer and are more likely to become potential customers.
Brightcove, which went public in February, has raised roughly $150 million from a combination of venture capital and its IPO, including a $12 million Series E round of funding led by original Series A investors Accel Partners and General Catalyst partners in April 2010.
The company expects to see $86 to $87 million in revenue this year, says Allaire.
The changing video platform landscape
Brightcove was first founded in 2005, and launched in 2006, as video content publisher. Back then, Allaire said, things were much simpler than they are now.
At the time, videos were generally short form clips, and reached through browsers. And then only metrics that anyone cared about was how many clips the video got. When he talked to big broadcaster about using a platform like Brightcove, Allaire said that the companies all thought they could do it themselves.
Now, he said, “things are much more sophisticated.” Not only are companies running videos of entire television episodes and movies, but the information that want from those videos goes much deeper than just how many clicks it got. Clients want real time analytics, and they want to get deeper insights into the impact of social and search on how people are viewing their content.
“The big broadcast companies now realize they are not software companies,” he said, and noted that a lot more money was now being put into research and development just to keep up with how the video content game is changing.
Beyond just how video has changed, the Internet itself is completely different than it was six years ago. And, to keep ahead of the curve, Brightcove launched a new publishing arm: apps.
The App Cloud and the war between HTML 5 and Native
Brightcove’s App Cloud first became available in November 2011. It is a hybrid platform, of HTML 5 and Native.
That the platform is open to both HTML 5 and Native apps is very important to Allaire. In fact, he feels to strongly about it Allaire recently wrote a blog post in which he decried the “religious wars over mobile platforms,” with people on both sides saying that it has be all one platform and not the other.
“This war impacts every company on the planet. Importantly, as institutions seek to interact with their users and constituents, they must build applications to reach these users. We’re talking about an enormous impact on IT labor markets on a global basis. In a deflated macro-economy that requires increasing productivity from our workforce, increased global competitiveness for talent, software developers and their choices of which platforms and technologies to build on are having a huge impact everywhere in the world,” he wrote.
“It can’t be either or,” he said. Apps have to be both in order to get to the next level.
The ones who really get hurt are developers who have experience in one platform, but cannot get work since both are not being used, Allaire said.
Instead of one or the other, the model should be free and open, he said, so any device can support any app. Companies need to work across platforms in order to achieve this.
The latest updates to the App Cloud introduced an open native plugin architecture, included built-in integrations with major third-party technologies from Google and comScore, and expanded integrated support for push notifications.
In future released, Brightcove will utilize the new native plugin architecture to introduce new capabilities to App Cloud. These include native video players for iOS and Android, DRM-protected video, and in-app purchases through app stores.
A brief history of Jeremy Allaire
Allaire has been in the video platform business since he was in his 20s, when he founded Allaire Corporation in 1995, with his brother JJ. Allaire Corporation was a pioneer in using the web as an application platform, and its industry leading and award winning products power millions of websites, online services and business applications on the Internet.
When Allaire Coporation was founded, Allaire says it “had the benefit of investing in a lot of ideas,” as the company was “blessed with the capital to sustain itself.”
Because the company was profitable, in three years it had $80 to $90 million in revenue, Allaire says that he was able to take a lot of bets, and figure out where the company fit into the market. It was able to pivot and change, and while that meant “dislocating a lot of people,” taking those bets taught him lessons that he still carries with him today.
With Brightcove, Allaire says that he still takes bets, both large and small, but now that the company is bigger, and has gone public, there has to be a balance between maintaining the product, and sustaining loyalty, while continue to venture out and see where else the company fits.
Allaire calls the acquisition of Zencoder to be a “$30 million bet.” The same goes for the creation of the App Cloud, which began two years ago as a “startup inside the company.”
The Allaire Corporation was eventually merged with Macromedia, where Allaire became Chief Technology Officer. While there, he was instrumental in launching Macromedia Flash as the dominant tool for website design.
Allaire says that the best advice he can give is to “take capital when you can come get it, because things can change rapidly.”
Allaire joins an elite group of founders/CEOs who've spoken at Splash. Splash keynotes have had to accomplish one of the following achievements: 1) founded and taken a company public 2) founded and sold a company for more than $300 million 3) founded a company and presiding over a company valued at $500 million. At Splash, the audience can hear their lessons. Check out our archives of Splash keynotes from Peter Thiel, Mark Pincus (Zynga), Tony Hsieh (Zappos), and many more.
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