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  • Raises $3.5 Million Series B From Harmonic and Existing Investors

    Cloud-based encoding company has raised a $3.5 million Series B round led by video infrastructure provider Harmonic, with participation by existing investors. The new round brings to $8 million the total capital raised by the company.  

    The investment follows a partnership announced last April between the companies in which integrated Harmonic's ProMedia Carbon transcoding solution. That deal allows content providers and distributors who already use Carbon on-premise to tap into's Carbon deployment to meet transcoding demand spikes.

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  • and Harmonic Partner For Cloud Transcoding and Harmonic have announced a partnership to offer unlimited cloud-based transcoding to content and service providers to convert broadcast-quality content into numerous other media formats for multi-screen delivery.

    Jeff Malkin, president of told me that there are 2 principal benefits of the partnership: 1) existing Harmonic ProMedia Carbon customers can use their presets/profiles to easily augment their own on-premise encoding infrastructure when workloads increase by utilizing cloud capacity, and 2) for new customers who want to tap use cloud transcoding instead of building their own infrastructure, they can use In both situations transcoding costs and time to market are reduced.

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  • Replaces Revision3's Encoding Systems [VIDEO]

    Yesterday, announced that Revision3 (which was recently acquired by Discovery) is replacing its in-house encoding infrastructure with The win is a validation of's vision for its cloud-based, encoding-on-demand service model as more scaleable and cost-effective vs. the traditional approach of media companies operating their own encoding systems.

    Jeff Malkin,'s president and I caught up at the recent NABShow. Jeff discusses why over 3,000 companies across multiple industries have elected to work with the company for their encoding needs. is also moving into TV Everywhere, to support longer-form video encoding for multiple device delivery. Watch the video below (5 minutes, 58 seconds)

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  • Integrates and Rolls Out Future-Proofing has integrated its video platform directly into the interface, thereby bringing together the two services that had previously stood alone. As a result, customers have the option of using as well or instead of the service. Jeff Malkin,'s president explained to me last week customers can now flexibly decide whether they want to host their video themselves ( option) or just have URLs created to embed in their sites (the option). Given resource constraints for many customers, is often a preferred route.

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  • Pro is Unveiled, Fits Between YouTube/Vimeo and OVPs has released Pro today, which as company president Jeff Malkin explained to me, is targeted to the tens of thousands of video producers who need a solution that's more robust than YouTube or Vimeo but doesn't have all the bells and whistles (and cost) of a full-blown online video platforms.

    As I explained in my original coverage of's beta launch in January, is a clever service that allows video producers to upload or point to their source video file and then have return a single URL and embed code with 20+ output formats that will work across all devices and browsers.'s goal is enticingly simple: to eliminate the operational complexity and cost of increasingly heterogeneous playback environments for video producers while letting users just click play and begin viewing.

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  • Introduces "Instant Encoding" That Works During Download

    Service provider is continuing to push the bar by introducing today the beta version of "Instant Encoding" - a new process which begins encoding the video file while it is being downloaded, as opposed to waiting until it is entirely delivered before starting the process. According to's tests, the result is an average 30% acceleration in encoding, with larger files achieving up to 100% acceleration. Instant Encoding is available to customers with the addition of an API call. The best part is isn't charging anything extra for the feature. Faster encodes of course means quicker time to availability, which is a key differentiator for media companies trying to distinguish themselves in a social media dominated world.

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  • Makes Sharing Videos To Mobile Devices a Snap

    If you've ever sent one of your "must see" video clips around to friends or family, only to have them exasperatingly tell you "It didn't play for me!" when they tried accessing it on their mobile device, then a clever new service called is going to make you smile.'s mission is to radically simplify the video transcoding and playback process so that virtually all mobile devices or browsers can play any video - regardless of their original format. Given the confusing proliferation of formats - Flash, WebM, HTML5, etc. and devices (iOS, Android, Blackberry, game consoles, etc.) that is a significant value proposition.'s special appeal to consumers is that it puts a familiar URL-shortening, social media-friendly front-end on's cloud-based transcoding capability, which has been battle tested by 1,000+ content providers to date. But whereas URL shorteners like primarily focus on making very long URLs shorter and therefore more manageable for social media use, actually addresses the underlying playability of the video and also provides a short URL.

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  • Now Offering Expanded Codec Support for HTML5

    HTML5 is gaining further momentum today as leading cloud encoding provider is now supporting the WebM and Ogg Theora video codecs, adding to its longstanding support for H.264. As a result, customers can now choose "presets" for these codecs so that all browsers and devices supporting HTML5 will be able to seamlessly playback video.

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  • Now Offering Pre-Configured Mobile Video Encoding Options

    Encoding service provider is taking the wraps off "Mobile Made Easy" this morning, a collection of pre-configured encoding settings for mobile devices including iPhone/iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and certain Samsung and Nokia phones. With the "presets," customers can now also select which mobile devices they want their video prepared and available for and the appropriate encoding process will be triggered.

    Jeff Malkin,'s president told me yesterday that the company has studied the video requirements for each of these mobile devices and designed the presets accordingly. Until now, the heterogeneous mobile space has meant that video providers interested in going mobile have had to test and optimize for each device, an expensive and time-consuming process which has deterred many. By simplifying the process Jeff sees many more video providers getting involved with mobile. From a pricing standpoint, files outputted for mobile use are counted the same as other files, under's usage based pricing plan.

    While mobile video use still lags online use, it is poised to gain rapidly as the universe of video-capable smartphones and tablet computers like the iPad explode. Just yesterday, UBS forecast that the iPad alone could ship 28 million units next year. We've also seen tablets unveiled by Dell, Samsung, Toshiba and others, based on Android, which will add competition. All that means a huge new addressable market that video providers will find irresistible.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).

  • Aiming to Increase Its Reach, Debuts White-Label Option, the cloud-based encoding provider, is debuting a new white-label option of its service today. Jeff Malkin,'s president, explained to me yesterday that the company's goal is to expand reach through new customers who have access to many new opportunities. Initial customers being announced today include Cisco Eos, Kaltura, Giant Realm and vzaar. Jeff said there are many additional white-label customers yet to be announced. is enabling these relationships by introducing new features in its API which allow customers to integrate transcoding into their customers' work flow. In particular, Jeff said the API enhancement means white-label customers can offer the same type of sub-account set-up and trial account creation, plus account and sub-account tracking in real-time. will offer the same service level guarantees for white-label customers.

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  • How to Navigate the Video Format Battlefield

    Today I'm pleased to offer a guest post from Jeff Malkin, president of With all the recent news around video codecs, formats and corporate battles, the world is getting increasingly complicated for content providers looking to benefit from the shift to online video. is in the middle of this action and today Jeff cuts through the noise and provides some recommendations for success.

    How to Navigate the Video Format Battlefield  
    by Jeff Malkin

    For content publishers and consumers, there is chaos in the video ecosystem, and it's going to get worse before it gets better. No doubt you've been reading about HTML5 vs. Flash vs. Silverlight (and recently, WebM), Apple vs. Adobe, H.264 vs. VP8, iPhone vs. Android, Do-it-Yourself vs. OVP.

    Whether serving tens or thousands of videos, maximizing viewership with reasonably high-quality videos across web and mobile devices is the new imperative.  With so many permutations of video codecs, formats, containers and features, it's confusing to design a video workflow that's cost-effective, flexible to change with the evolving formats and scalable to meet your growth requirements.  With this post, I offer a couple of recommendations to help simplify the array of options currently available. 

    Case in point: Just when it appeared that H.264 was emerging as the video codec leader, primarily because of YouTube support and strong backing by Apple on its devices, Google went and threw an open-sourced VP8 codec into the ring via the recently announced WebM project, a new video format launched by Google with support from other leading industry players such as Mozilla, Opera Software, Brightcove and

    While both H.264 and VP8 are good quality codecs, only VP8 is currently royalty-free and therefore has a great opportunity to emerge as the new leader within the next year or two.  However, for web distribution today, we recommend encoding your videos using the H.264 video codec in an .mp4 container.  This is a high-quality output format already supported by Flash, and the leading HTML5 browsers including Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer v9.

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  • Offers Multi-Bit Rate Support to Meet Spec for iPhones/iPads

    This morning is announcing support for multi-bit rate encoding and "stream segmenting," to let its customers comply with Apple's HTTP streaming spec for delivering video in iPhone and iPad apps. Last week,'s president Jeff Malkin explained to me that several of its customers had reported that video apps they had submitted to Apple for approval in the App Store had been rejected because they didn't offer multiple bit rates. A post last week on TechCrunch provided more background on Apple's requirements. now offers its customers 3 pre-set encoding rates with additional ones configurable on demand. Subsequent to encoding and splitting the video into multiple segments, packages up the files and delivers them with XML to the specified CDN for HTTP streaming from standard web servers. The goal of multiple bit rates is to let the video adjust to varying available bandwidth, which in turn helps smooth the user's experience. Jeff reported that CarDomain, the largest auto enthusiast site, is now using's multi-bit rate. CarDomain had seen its app rejected by Apple repeatedly due to "bandwidth usage limitations."  

    The backdrop here is that with more and more apps incorporating video, when WiFi isn't available, AT&T's 3G network comes under ever-increasing pressure. Just last week I posted on the sub-par experience several iPhone users I've surveyed have been having when trying to access the premium iPhone March Madness app on AT&T's 3G network (though to be fair a few others commented that their access has been ok). I had been surprised that Apple and AT&T felt confident enough in the latter's 3G network to approve this app in the first place, given the likely concurrence of viewing.

    AT&T is obviously feeling more confident in its network - or at least in the buffer that Apple is creating by enforcing the multi-bit rate requirement - that more video-intensive apps seem to be passing through the approval process. In addition to the MMOD app, other examples include the new SlingPlayer app, announced last month, and's video app, which was unveiled last week. AT&T is likely trying to be more aggressive with these video apps as news continues to filter out that its iPhone exclusive will expire this year, opening up competition from other carriers.  

    Mobile video adoption is still well behind online, but the proliferation of mobile devices and apps that support video will no doubt accelerate usage. The next big device catalyst will of course be the iPad, coming this weekend. And as more ecosystem partners like provide the underlying tools to deliver seamless mobile video experiences, even more video-centric apps can be expected.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).
  • February Has Been a Red-Hot Month for Online Video Financings

    February may be the shortest month of the year, but just less than 3 weeks in, the pace of online video financings has been the hottest since I started tracking this data over a year ago. By my count there have been at least 8 financings announced this month and I suspect I've likely missed a few (please let me know if so). This week brought financings from Clicker ($11M), YuMe ($25M) and TidalTV ($16M), adding to those announced previously: ($1.25M), IVT ($5.5M), Voddler ($3.5M), BrightRoll ($10M) and the big whopper of the month Ustream ($75M) though this one in two tranches.

    Even with limited liquidity and choppy public markets, investors continue to make big bets across the online and mobile video ecosystems because of the massive shifts in consumer behaviors, business models and technology development. In 2009 I tracked at least 64 companies raising almost $470 million in the worst venture capital market in decades. Despite investors' enthusiasm, at least 2 big craters (Veoh - $70M and Joost - $45M) prove that even startups with blue-chip teams and promising headstarts can flop in this still nascent market.
    Update: Make that 9 financings in February, for a total of just under $150 millon, as Vook announced just today that it has raised a $2.5M round.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).

  • Moves to The Rackspace Cloud; Video Encoding Service Evolves, one of the earliest companies to offer video encoding/transcoding as a service, announced yesterday that it would now be using The Rackspace Cloud as its primary cloud computing environment, a switch from Amazon's EC2. The move is significant as it is another indicator of how the still nascent video encoding as a service is evolving to fit into the overall encoding landscape. Jeff Malkin,'s COO and Chandler Vaughn, The Rackspace Cloud's director of product development, gave me an update yesterday.

    Media companies have traditionally done their encoding and transcoding in-house, using software from companies like Anystream, Telestream, Digital Rapids, Rhozet and others. As I originally wrote last April, companies like, mPoint and HD Cloud have begun offering alternatives that allow these processes to occur in the "cloud." The idea is that media companies can essentially rent encoding/transcoding capabilities as needed for a fee from companies who do their processes on a third party's infrastructure such as The Rackspace Cloud or Amazon's EC2. For media companies, the new encoding/transcoding service providers' primary value propositions are lower overall cost (both opex and capex), elimination of on-site responsibility for hardware and software, and flexibility.

    Jeff reported that is now serving 400 customers, with user-generated content sites like StreetFire still a meaningful part of its business. The company has encoded 3.5 million videos to date and is now encoding 30K source videos/day. Jeff said that established companies like MTV and Brightcove are using's services, but noted that larger media companies are still just dipping their toe into encoding as a service. In particular Jeff said that given turnaround times, the ability to do encodes for full-length HD-quality files on a service basis is not yet practical.

    This echoes what an executive at a large encoding software company told me recently - that for the biggest media companies, which have large files that need to be turned around quickly, encoding in the cloud doesn't yet make sense. Another issue is the reluctance to move source files outside the media company's firewall.'s move to Rackspace begins to address some of these issues. Jeff highlighted 3 primary reasons for the switch - Rackspace's CPU bursting capability, which can offer 2x the processing performance of EC2 (The Bitsource just posted a performance comparison analysis); closer proximity to customer's files, as Rackspace is the managed hosting provider for thousands of web sites; and Rackspace's customer support, which improves's ability to deliver on its service level guarantees.

    With the volume of online and mobile video exploding, this will be a key part of the market to watch. It is still early days for encoding as a service, but as and others continue to strengthen their operations and maintain attractive pricing, it seems likely that they will eventually gain attention from additional media companies.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

  • HD Cloud Launches Video Encoding Platform, Capitalizing on "Cloud Computing"

    Three significant trends are behind today's launch of HD Cloud, a new video transcoding service being announced today: the proliferation of video file formats and encoding rates, the increase in syndication activity to multiple distributors and the cost and scale benefits of "cloud computing." HD Cloud founder and CEO Nicholas Butterworth (who I have known since he ran MTV's digital operations 10 years ago) walked me through the company's plan yesterday and how it benefits content providers looking to cost-effectively capitalize on broadband video's surging popularity.

    Anyone who spends a little time watching broadband video will notice variations in video formats and quality. Behind the scenes there are diverse encoding specs for how video is prepared from its source file before it is served to users. This video encoding work is multiplied significantly for content providers if they also want to distribute through 3rd parties like Hulu, Netflix, Fancast,, etc, all of which have their own encoding specs. Further, these 3rd parties all have their own ways of accepting video feeds and associated metadata from content partners. Yet another driver of complexity are adaptive bit rate players like Move Networks which automatically hop between multiple files encoded at different bit rates depending on the user's available bandwidth. Combine it all and it means encoding has become a labor-intensive, complicated, yet highly-necessary process.

    Traditionally encoding has been done locally by content providers using encoding solutions from enterprise-class companies like Anystream, Telestream, Digital Rapids and others. By offering encoding as a service, HD Cloud gives certain content providers an alternative to spending capex and running their own encoding farms. Content providers choose which source files are to be encoded into which formats and bit rates. They also provide HD Cloud with their credentials for distributing to authorized 3rd party sites. When a job is configured, HD Cloud performs the encoding and 3rd party distribution. HD Cloud doesn't store the files or keep a copy, mainly for security reasons.

    The key to making all this work is so-called "cloud computing," whereby HD Cloud (and many others) essentially rent computing capacity from providers like Amazon's EC2. As new jobs come in, HD Cloud requests capacity, temporarily loads its encoding software (which is a combination of open source and its own custom code) and runs its jobs. When they're done, HD Cloud releases the capacity back to Amazon. It's all a little analogous to the old days of timesharing on mainframes, except with new efficiencies. HD Cloud's economics are based on Amazon buying the computing capacity and operating the facilities and utilizing them at a far higher rate than HD Cloud or any other customer would have on their own.

    The result is that HD Cloud prices its encoding at $2/gigabyte, which Nicholas thinks will only get cheaper as bandwidth prices continue to fall. A financial model he sent along suggests that the content provider's ROI given certain assumptions about the amount of content encoded and streamed could be 3-4 times higher than with traditional local encoding solutions. This also assumes the avoidance of upfront capex for local software and hardware encoding alternatives, an important cost-savings for many given the economy. HD Cloud is announcing as its first client today. Others in this space include mPoint,, ON2 and others.

    Between encoding's growing complexity and syndication's appeal, content providers are going to need more extensive and cost-effective encoding solutions. Cloud computing in general, and HD Cloud (and others) seem well-positioned to address these needs.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

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