Recently we officially welcomed Beamr to our portfolio, and we are thrilled to partner with innovators in the rapidly changing video content delivery space. Beamr Founder and CEO, Sharon Carmel, and I wanted to take a moment to delve deeper into some of the challenges and opportunities in the industry.
Can you set the stage? What was the inspiration behind starting Beamr?
The inspiration behind founding Beamr in 2009 was simple – we saw a need for more efficient storage and delivery of high bandwidth video content beyond what block based encoding solutions could provide. This led to the development of our unique quality measure technology, which took seven years of intensive research to develop because it is closely aligned with the human visual system. The result is a real advancement in maximizing image and video quality for the viewer. Our customers have reported up to a 50% reduction in their re-buffering events with a 20% improvement in stream start times after optimizing their video with the Beamr optimizer (Click to Tweet).
As new video consumption formats like virtual reality and 360 become more popular, and as consumer expectations of video quality rise, how can the viewing experience be enhanced by Beamr's video optimization and encoding technology?
We know that there are two critical components to creating a positive consumer experience. First, video quality is important - how lifelike or realistic is the picture? Second – is the video stable? Even when you have amazing picture quality, any re-buffering that occurs will ruin the experience for the consumer. For us, the solution is that perfect combination between best picture quality and the lowest file sizes or bitrates possible. Beamr’s encoding technology allows video distribution companies doing OTT streaming or digital delivery via mobile, cable or satellite networks, to encode extremely high quality video while doing so as efficiently as possible. Our optimization solutions reduce the file size needed by as much as 50% in order to provide a more reliable and buffer-free viewing experience (Click to Tweet).
What are some recent trends you’ve adapted to, and what should be considered in the near future?
We have definitely seen a renewed focus on video quality, especially as consumers are becoming savvier and expect their service provider to deliver content that is compatible to their viewing devices, i.e. 4K for the TV and 1080p for mobile (Click to Tweet). While these expectations are rising, we also know that network capacity is not growing at the same rate, which leaves a gap for technologists like us to solve. Other ways we expect the market and the tech to change:
Managed service operators are facing competitive pressure to upgrade the quality of video they deliver. This is not an easy task since multi-service operators face unique constraints such as limited bandwidth over a QAM channel (i.e. format by which digital cable channels are encoded), or constraints on a satellite transponder, which in turn makes the demand for optimization technology even higher.
Technology fragmentation is driving the need for standards that are supported in the market for devices. There are challengers to the next generation encoding standard HEVC including VP9 by Google and a consortium of companies known as Alliance for Open Media. However, HEVC is already in tens of millions of TVs and supported on even more mobile devices, which is why I believe that the industry needs to rally behind the HEVC standard. Ultimately, consumers are more concerned with getting the best quality experience, versus what specific technology is powering the experience.
What happened after you acquired Vanguard Video? Why was bringing encoding software in-house so important?
The acquisition of Vanguard allowed us to add the most preeminent video technology team in the industry to our already extremely skilled engineering group at Beamr. We knew from the beginning that the optimization technology that we built at Beamr was special, but we also felt that to fully capitalize on the range of customer use cases for our optimizer, we’d need to be integrated with an encoder. Which caused us to ask ourselves – do we buy or build? And in this case the correct answer was to buy a company. After eight months together I am very proud of our integrated team and I know there is already speculation from industry insiders such as Dan Rayburn and Jan Ozer about what this dream team will bring to market. Let’s just say we are excited to pull the covers off in the first half of 2017, and we feel very confident about building on the greatness of our HEVC encoder, which is already considered by the most demanding customers in the industry to be the best. 2017 is going to be a really, really great year for Beamr!
In your experience, what's the best way to work with an investor like Verizon Ventures?
It’s valuable to work with partners like Verizon who are experienced in the industry and can provide proactive market and technological insights at the right time. A collaborative partnership is so important, and for startup founders the best advice is to not underestimate the relationship with their investors. We’re thrilled to have Verizon Ventures on our side to help us forge new relationships and further establish our presence in the market. From aligning our engineering and tech for presentations at industry conferences to identifying opportunities for Beamr within Verizon business units, we look forward to a strong collaborative effort to further expand the market for advanced encoding and optimization solutions.
What's next for Beamr in 2017?
One of the biggest priorities in 2017 will be to tackle the challenges of an overburdened network. This means expanding our sales and market development teams outside the US, where we have already developed relationships with top tier service operators. Beamr’s product line will expand further to integrate our unique content adaptive quality measure, which is a major competitive advantage helping web publishers, social networks, content distributors, consumer video services and media companies reduce costs associated with storing and transmitting media files.