Video is shaping the way people communicate, learn and work
Aiming its end-to-end arsenal and flexibility at emerging markets
NINE years ago, New York-based software company Kaltura was founded with an ambitious mission: To power every video experience in the world.
“We have a strong conviction that across different markets and geographies, video is becoming an elementary data type – shaping the way people communicate, learn and work,” says cofounder and chief revenue officer Dr Shay David (pic above).
“Humans are visual creatures, and we’ve been stuck in this world of text and 140 characters for way too long – things are changing,” he tells Digital News Asia (DNA) at the recently concluded CommunicAsia exhibition and conference in Singapore.
Kaltura made its debut at a TechCrunch40 industry event in San Francisco on Sept 18, 2007, and won the People's Choice award based on the votes of conference attendees. At the time, it had 20 employees and had received US$2.1 million in funding from business angels and Californian venture capital fund Avalon Ventures.
In February 2014, Kaltura secured an additional US$47 million of funding, bringing the total raised to US$116.1 million.
The Series E round was led by new investors SAP Ventures, Nokia Growth Partners, Commonfund Capital, and Brazil-based Gera Ventures, with participation from existing investors .406 Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, Intel Capital, Mitsui & Co Global Investment Inc and Silicon Valley Bank.
“Video is already 90% of the traffic on the Internet, the majority of what’s going on the web is video. If aliens on Mars send back a report about Earth and the Internet, they’d describe is as a system for sharing videos,” says David.
“This is the world Kaltura operates in, and we are determined to become the premium provider for technology that enables video experiences,” he adds.
Kaltura’s video platform has carved out a footprint in the OTT TV (Over the Top Television), OVP (Online Video Platform), EdVP (Education Video Platform) and EVP (Enterprise Video Platform) markets.
“In each vertical market there is a different ‘killer app.’ In education, it’s probably distance learning; for medicine, it’s telemedicine; in the enterprise, it’s communication and collaboration; and for entertainment, it’s OTT TV.
“And in each vertical, Kaltura has market-leading solutions that can help address challenges,” David declares.
Kaltura said that it would be using its most recent injection of capital to further accelerate product development, and extend operations into Brazil, Mexico, China, Japan, Australia, Singapore and South Korea.
It established its Singapore office this year and is building up its regional sales and marketing capabilities by hiring locals, aiming to grow its staff count to 30-40 people by next year.
“The team’s core focus will be on signing up new customers and servicing those customers, and operations,” says David.
“We want to use some of those big global and early adopters as lighthouse accounts to show the way to providers and potential customers.
“The main plan for the year is to expand on area footprint, and we are actively recruiting partners, resellers and service providers,” he adds.
David says the Kaltura founding team includes serial entrepreneurs who have built global distribution networks, and understand that when taking exciting technology to market, you’re only as good as the distribution network in place.
“Our plan it to partner as much as we can with local providers to sell the product, and help secure the customers that will help us come full circle to our mission of empowering next-generation video experiences,” he declares.
The company’s current clients include Philips, Siemens, Astra Zeneca and Nestle; and educational institutions Yale, Cornell and Harvard Business School.
The National University of Singapore, Singapore University of Technology and Design, and INTI International University are amongst its South-East Asian customers.
However, its largest business lies in the media and entertainment vertical, with customers such as Telepictures, Turner Latin America, Kabel Deutschland, ABC TV, Disney TV and HBO.
It is already involved in projects in the region. For example, it is the technology platform provider for MediaCorp for live streaming video content from the 2015 SEA Games, currently taking place until June 16.
“This year will be a big one for us, and Asia Pacific is an important part of our overall expansion,” says David.
“Our biggest backers are Intel, SAP and Nokia, but we also have regional money such as Indian-American Nexus Venture Partners and Japan’s Mitsui & Co.
“We chose to bring on board Asian capital because we are ultimately a global play, and our expansion into Asia will be accelerated by our ability to also acquire capital locally,” he adds.
Dragged down by … gravity
If there is one main hurdle in its growth ambitions, it is ‘operational gravity.’
“We’re growing super-fast, and have to expand our technology footprint with more data centres, hiring across departments from sales engineers to customer support, and establishing local entities so that we can contract and build out locally,” says David.
“For a company growing as fast as we are, oftentimes the limitations are operational limitations.
“The benefit of being a software company is that there is no limit on the number of customers we can put on the platform.
“Software has marginal cost and economies of scale, so once you establish early market leadership, given that everything runs on the cloud, we think that we will see this accelerated expansion curve that other web services have experienced.
“We believe that we’re just at the point of hitting that hockey stick curve,” he adds.
To address its operational limits, David says Kaltura is being very aggressive with its partnership and channel strategy, relying on local resources.
The company has an agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deploy in its data centre in Singapore, and globally it has agreement with both AWS and IBM SoftLayer, and is able to replicate its platform in 40 different data centres.
“We also have the capability for private cloud solutions, for those more traditional service providers not fully comfortable with the public cloud,” he adds.
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