by Sharon Goldschlager
(Note: See Sharon’s BIO on the Contributing Authors’ Page)
Every day, over 10,000 new users join the Giraffic Fully Distributed Video Acceleration Cloud, while Giraffic has proven its ability to save video publishers over 50% of their video bandwidth costs.
One of the fastest growing trends in Internet use today - and expected to grow in the coming years - is the consumption of video content. For example, on YouTube alone, over 2 billion videos are viewed daily - and the popular online movie service Netflix now accounts for over 30% of total US internet bandwidth at peak hours.
Giraffic, a technology company led by a team with a proven track record of innovation and commercial success, has the solution for both the cost and the video congestion challenges caused by the massive adoption of video.
With a growth of over 10,000 new users joining Giraffic’s Fully Distributed Video Acceleration Cloud daily, Giraffic has proven its ability to save its clients over 50% of their bandwidth costs, delivering video content with a smooth playback and virtually eliminating the annoying re-buffering pauses.
Though costs of video delivery in 2010 have declined by 20-25%, traffic volume on average grew by 50% and is forecasted to explode.
Consequently, the total cost for content providers is rising and will continue to grow; while Internet congestion is threatening end-user streaming experience to the extent that the EBU (European Broadcaster Union) has concluded that video could collapse the Internet.
Content providers use the services of CDN (Content Delivery Networks) and local ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to deliver their Video content. CDN is a dedicated network of dispersed servers holding data copies, serving end-users by dynamically and intelligently determining where to serve content from, based on expected latency, which depends on geographical proximity and other parameters.
The Video Delivery Market
A recent Frost & Sullivan survey states that "The biggest trend affecting the market over the past 12-18 months is the emergence of broadcast quality content being available through over-the-top services. Subscription-based offerings from Netflix and Hulu Plus along with videos from most major broadcasters have created a tremendous amount of new traffic for the CDNs to deliver."
The major CDN providers have their own networks scattered throughout the world, offering their service for a fee. The cost of maintaining this vast array of servers and cost of bandwidth is eventually inflicted on the content providers who hire their services.
Giraffic - The Company
While working as head of sales and business development in one of the RAD group companies, Yoel Zanger was exposed to the enormous potential of video delivery via the Internet. In 2008, Giraffic was co-founded by startup veteran Zanger – CEO --- and physics and mathematics algorithm expert Dr. Gil Gat - CTO.
Zanger, former executive at Phonetic Systems - a startup which was sold for $70M – has held a number of executive positions in leading technology firms. Dr. Gat gained his unmatched expertise in encoding, streaming protocols and storage algorithms while working for numerous high-tech companies and in academia.
Giraffic is backed by an experienced Board of Directors and advisors. These include some of the most accomplished high tech and media veterans - such as former CEO of Warner Music International, Former General Manager of CNN.com, and founder of Sling Media.
The Product - Giraffic’s Fully Distributed VoD Acceleration Technology
Giraffic stands out in its dramatic cost reduction efficiency and top video delivery quality by significantly reducing re-buffering pauses and increasing delivery speed, using proprietary algorithms.
Giraffic's technology guarantees high availability and smooth viewing experience for niche, “long-tail” content (the audience consumes a more diverse set of content), as well as highly popular blockbusters.
Based on the proven and reliable fully distributed cloud technology, where content is delivered from multiple cloud peers (other network members), Giraffic has developed a superior solution. What makes Giraffic’s solution unique are the encoded format of its data as well as the asynchronicity of its streaming protocol. This architecture fosters benefits for both the end-user and the content provider.
Content provider benefits include:
• Higher quality video streaming increases end-user stickiness and reduces churn (over 80% of users who encounter re-buffering pauses abandon the video playback)
• Dramatically reduced cost – massive infrastructure savings, with almost no reliance on traditional CDN (Giraffic’s field results prove over 50% bottom line cost savings)
• Infinite scalability – as the number of video consumers grows, the network capacity grows in parallel, with unlimited size potential
• Seamless deployment and seamless fallback to classical CDN or origin server is fully automatic and guarantees that the end-user experience is never compromised
Benefits for the end-user include:
• Significantly improved streaming reliability and end-user experience - reducing re-buffering events by 50-70%
• Advanced VoD-focused capabilities - media acceleration, seek forward and adaptive streaming
• End-user video acceleration, optimized for HD!
• Virtually non-disruptive - only uses a small fraction of the end-user upload bandwidth, typically about 10%, yielding to other activities on the user’s device
The reader is encouraged to watch an online demonstration of the technology. After installation of the Giraffic Video Accelerator, select a demo. On subsequent playbacks, viewers are advised to disable local caching (link below play screen) and check the "Show Detailed Streaming Information" box to get statistics of the amount of data retrieved from P2P (cloud peers), server and cache.
Note: The demo’s statistics display refreshes itself constantly, so playback quality may be affected. This is for demonstration purposes only; when the detailed streaming information checkbox is turned off, video playback is smooth.
Giraffic is focusing on delivery of Video-on-Demand (VoD) streaming content, having the highest profit growth potential. Giraffic's business model is based on splitting cost savings, insuring a mutual interest with the client, and on enabling creation of new monetization opportunities for online video publishers.
Customers include, among others, Veoh.com – one of the world’s largest video entertainment sites (with over 12M unique users and 40M video views per month); Craze Digital, which owns over 5,000 full length features with over two million views daily; AudioTube music , with integrations and trials with leading content networks.
Giraffic offers solutions for three major market segments.
• Media Companies and Content Distributors
Giraffic’s platform supports any type of media – video, games, software updates or data transfer.
• Social Networks and Video Sharing Sites
Only the first or second view is sourced from a service provider’s infrastructure or CDN. All the following views are delivered exclusively from the Giraffic fully distributed cloud, at high quality and with no buffering.
• Device Manufactures
Display devices and recorders can pull streaming content from other devices connected in a network, holding copies of the desired content.
Lessons for the First-Time Entrepreneur
Zanger agreed to share his experience from when he had founded his first startup.
• Seek guidance and help from anyone who will give it to you, not just techies and investors.
• Recognize your own limitations - Assemble an advisory board of successful and experienced personas.
• Seek Market Validation - Dialoguing with clients in the very early stages is key for designing a successful value proposition and the right company business plan, but mostly – is a must in order to raise seed capital.
• Protect your IP, using patents or other ways, to a limit. Sometimes the risk of not sharing your technology with potential investors and customers is greater than the risk of disclosure.
• Setup a team of not only talented, but also extremely committed people (offer options), having 'chemistry' with one another.
• Build a demo or a prototype as a proof of concept, but don’t be fanatic about getting it – the business is much more important.
• Delegate administrative tasks, adjust the team, and be focused mainly on business results. Remember: efforts in a startup count for very little. Results are all that matters.
• Don’t be afraid to share everything with your Board of Directors, and sometimes with all of your investors and shareholders.
• Investors want to invest in the right trends, not only the right technologies and teams. Choose a hot trend to ride on, like Zinga (FarmVille) did on the Facebook trend.
• Find a few dozen customers to support and recommend your idea – market validation; in any case, investors are more interested in the business side than the technology.
• Approach investors one by one, improving your pitch on the way.
Zanger's vision is to incorporate Giraffic's technology into multiple consumer electronic devices - PCs, set-top-boxes, game consoles, mobile tablets, etc.
As far as the future is concerned, Giraffic has also identified the opportunity to utilize its technology in order to increase revenues for its customers by generating new monetization opportunities for them.