Bitmovin, the online video software and infrastructure company founded by two of the creators of the MPEG-DASH video streaming standard, has raised $30 million in Series B funding. The round is led by Highland Europe, with participation from existing investors Atomico, Constantia New Business, Dawn Capital, and Y Combinator.
The company says the new round of funding will be used to scale its product R&D, field engineering and sales teams worldwide — with the aim being to expand its global customer base of TV streaming providers, internet companies and social media companies. The Series B brings total funding for the 2013-founded company and Y Combinator alumnus to $43 million.
“Bitmovin came about as a spin-off from research we did together at the University of Klagenfurt, in Austria,” says Bitmovin CEO Stefan Lederer, who founded the company with CTO Christopher Müller. “During our PhDs we co-created the MPEG-DASH video streaming standard, which is used by YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, etc. amongst many others today, and which is used in total for more than 50% of the peak internet traffic. The research evolved into the company, with the help of angel investors including senior people at Cisco, Netflix, Accenture, Drupal and DropBox”.
Two years after Bitmovin turned from academic research into a commercial entity, the startup went through Y Combinator as a member of the summer 2015 cohort, which Lederer says was perfect timing. “We also won our first U.S. customers at the same time, which then made the move to California a much easier transition to make. Y Combinator really helped us as founders that started from a technical background. They helped us refine our go-to-market strategy and make products out of the technology that we had created”.
Today the company has offices in Austria, London, New York, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. The Bitmovin CEO says there is more to come following this round as the explosion of high quality online video content shows no signs of slowing.
The Bitmovin platform — broadly consisting of video compression, playback and analytics APIs — feeds into a growing trend that is seeing consumers expect online video to match the quality and user experience of Netflix and Amazon’s video streaming services. In turn, companies are finding that building an in-house solution can be prohibitively expensive and is prone to becoming obsolete as new codecs come onboard and older video infrastructure technology becomes obsolete.
“Our technology makes it possible to get high quality video to audiences wherever they are and whatever device they may be using – levelling the playing field with traditional media owners and broadcasters,” he explains. “The focus is really on efficiency and performance, making video load faster, stop buffering, increase quality, and reduce the amount of bandwidth one needs to see high quality video.
“We are different from the existing vendors as we are deeply developer and API focussed, with a passion for innovation and disruptive technologies. That’s our background, we are engineers, and we like to build the best products. Thus we’ve been the first ones in many new technologies on the market, setting the bar on performance and efficiency of video streaming”.
On the technology side, recent Bitmovin announcements include the ability to use AI to encode videos more effectively (learning, scene-by-scene how each video is treated so the next one is handled more quickly) and a new video player that can reduce the load time on a typical HTML page by a second.
“We’re also proud to support a new royalty-free codec called AV1, which came out last week (backed by Apple, Bitmovin, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Samsung, amongst others). It shifts the tectonic plates in video because it’s the first time that online video innovation will be possible without making payments to a pool of incumbent, traditional media and consumer electronics companies. It helps opens the playing field to internet companies to, potentially, take more of the lead in video entertainment. It also means more predictability as companies will not be affected by changes in patent pools,” says Lederer.
To that end, the Bitmovin founder says customers include Sling, Periscope, The New York Times, ProSiebenSat.1, Red Bull Media House, FuboTV, RTL and iflix. “We are getting a lot of interest in the market, with a lot of new customers. Just last year we had a revenue growth of 3.5x, and we expect similar growth this year, which is great, but at the same time we want to make sure we continue to provide the best service and products to our customers. So we invest heavily in our engineering, solution and support teams, to maintain our DNA as an engineering and developer-first company,” he adds.