Mobile Video Startup Vuclip Buys Jigsee To Target Emerging Markets With Apps

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A little consolidation underway in the world of mobile video streaming: Vuclip — a Silicon Valley-based startup that offers mobile video streaming services to across some 200 countries and 5,500 devices — today announced that it is acquiring Jigsee, an app platform created specifically to let content publishers create their own mobile video apps. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but to date Vuclip has raised some $35 million in funding, including a $13 million Series D round in November 2012 from SingTel, NEA and Jafco.

Nickhil Jakatdar, CEO of Vuclip, tells me that Jigsee was “an asset purchase of a pre-revenue company.”

Vuclip and Jigsee were each founded in 2008 and have relatively complementary businesses. Perhaps most importantly, they both have a strong emphasis on providing video services to emerging markets. Vuclip’s unique selling point is that it allows for mobile video streaming in on to feature phones in low-bandwidth environments. Jigsee has made an early start on offering apps to these same users. Jigsee has extensive operations based out of Mumbai, India, with its headquarters in Ottawa. And in addition to its California base, Vuclip has offices also in New Delhi, Mumbai, Singapore, Dubai, Shenzhen and Beijing.

While Vuclip has up to now largely focused on offering its services through mobile browsers — the larger market up to now, and one in which it has already reached 45 million monthly unique users, with some 25 million video views per day — there are two trends that are pushing it to apps: the growing popularity of native apps has increasingly spilled over into feature phones, and a lot of the emerging market is growing up and increasingly turning to smartphones, and away from feature devices.

Similarly, there is another trend that Jakatdar noted to me: the shift to more long-form content on mobile devices. Vuclip, as a browser-based streaming service, has largely been focused on short-form content, but he says that increasingly, as the space matures and as people move on to more sophisticated, feature-rich devices, they have been looking for long-form content for their mobile devices. This is where Jigsee comes in.

“They have an amazing technology platform for long form content,” he said. “Traditionally it has been about short-form. But now you can, and people want to, watch a whole Bollywood movie on a 2G network.”

Jigsee, which has had 10 million downloads of its platform to-date, will let Vuclip develop apps to offer its services out to market, and also to resell the service to third parties to develop their own native content. It will also bring two key customers to Vuclip: Jigsee had deals in place with Sony and Disney in India. 

Vuclip also notes that Jigsee owns proprietary video streaming technology, which it  could end up using to improve streaming across all of its services.

“Jigsee saw the same huge opportunity that we did. Consumers in emerging markets are more often than not using low-cost smartphones, such as the Asha Series from Nokia or Android devices from Samsung, on constrained networks,” Jakatdar, CEO of Vuclip, said in a statement. “This is a huge audience for the mobile ecosystem to reach – but requires creative problem-solving to ensure a quality user experience.”

All 12 employees at Jigsee will be joining the staff of Vuclip, which employs over 100 people.