• After Raising $50 Million, Kaltura's Ron Yekutiel Describes Key Industry Tailwinds

    On Monday, online video platform Kaltura announced that it has raised a $50 million “pre-IPO” funding from Goldman Sachs’ Private Capital Investing group. With the new investment, Kaltura has raised $165.1 million across 6 different rounds. Kaltura said the new capital will be used to “extend its footprint across all six continents, and to further its unique positioning as the ‘Everything Video’ company.”

    I caught up with Ron Yekutiel, Kaltura’s Chairman, CEO and Co-founder to learn more about Kaltura’s strategy and the tailwinds that are helping drive the business forward. Kaltura has 450 global employees, with 250 working in R&D in Israel, 120 in the U.S. and the rest spread throughout global offices.

    Kaltura now operates across 4 verticals; OTT Operators & Service Providers, Media Companies, Enterprises and Education & Ed Tech. Ron described this as a “hedged” strategy where the company isn’t dependent on any one industry’s fortunes. Kaltura’s roots are in OTT and media, which still account for half the company’s revenue.

    Kaltura’s underlying API-driven architecture is used across the verticals. Ron noted the API approach has enabled Kaltura to partner more easily and flexibly with other tech providers in each vertical. A good example is in education, where Kaltura is integrated with Learning Management Systems (LMS) to provide capabilities for video uploads, lecture capture, distance learning and video marketing applications.

    Ron said the APIs have enabled Kaltura to achieve higher gross margins and lower customer churn because they’re stickier after being integrated with other systems. In this way, Ron described Kaltura’s technology differentiator as becoming a financial differentiator as well.

    But the biggest industry tailwind for Kaltura is what Ron described as media and service providers’ prioritization of standalone premium video services. Ron credits Netflix’s growth as demonstrating that premium video revenue opportunities extend well beyond merely short-form ad-supported online video like YouTube.

    Two years ago Kaltura acquired Tvinci to power paid video services (a “white label Netflix” approach) and Ron said it is now working with customers including Viacom, Turner, Vodafone and major OTT operators in Germany, Spain, Japan and elsewhere. In these projects, extensive professional services are required, and Ron said key competitors include traditional IPTV providers like Ericsson and Cisco, as well as MLBAM and thePlatform.

    Ron pointed to Kaltura’s OTT DNA as being a critical differentiator vs. traditional providers, allowing it to provide more flexibility and features like advanced analytics. Still, Ron said that the dynamics are in flux as certain large operators are bringing technology in house via acquisition (e.g. Telstra-Ooyala, AT&T-Quickplay Media and just yesterday Disney-BAM Tech).

    Overall however, Ron sees a large and expanding market as TV moves to IP, with plenty of opportunity for all. He also wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere down the road even large operators with their own technologies seek out third-party solutions.

    With the new $50 million financing, Ron doesn’t envision any new bold directions for the company, but rather continuing to deepen its positioning in existing verticals and geographies. He does see the company getting deeper into enabling applications, as with the recent announcement of “VPaaS,” an enabler of API-based video apps.

    Importantly, Ron doesn’t expect the company will expand into the video ad tech space, which itself has seen a lot of recent consolidation. While an ad-tech deal could boost Kaltura’s top line, Ron believes it would reduce the company’s multiple, as it positions itself to go public.