Hot Companies To Watch: Wowza Media, Influxis, PeerApp, Accordent, Cotendo

By my count, there are more than 1,000 vendors in the online video industry. Some of them are quite large and get a lot of publicity in the media but most of them are smaller, don't have as much visibility in the market and are not as well known. Starting with this post, every few months I plan to highlight some of the smaller companies that I personally think are doing a really good job in the market. Here are the companies I have selected for this month:

Images Wowza Media: For nearly six years now, Wowza Media has been in the market offering streaming server software that does just about everything. Customers I speak to love that Wowza's server has streaming support for all of Apple's iDevices, Microsoft Silverlight and Apple QuickTime formats, Android and BlackBerry support as well as working with IPTV and set-top boxes. David and Charlie at Wowza have taken something that's complex in the market and made it much simpler, kept the server affordable and from what customers tell me, provide fanatical support. Selling server software isn't very sexy, which is why you don't hear too much about Wowza outside of the IT community, but the company really has done a good job over the past six years of making a name for themselves with a very good product and has a lot of happy customers to prove it.

InfluxisLogo Influxis: In just a few short years, Influxis quickly became known as the go to company in the industry for content providers and publishers looking for custom Flash Media Server hosting options. Many developers needing to run custom FMS applications or doing something unique quickly gravitated to the dedicated hosting options provided by Influxis and their expertise in delivering Flash content. Thousands of customers later, the company has now branched out into providing a lot of the custom development work around players and apps for live events, multi-user collaboration needs, P2P and DRM solutions and is now also specializing in prepping video for mobile applications.

Logo PeerApp: While certainly not the only company providing media caching solutions in the market for telcos and network operators, PeerApp's name keeps coming up with customers as having one of the best solutions in the market. And while not widely known, PeerApp has a long list of customers using their technology to offer their own media caching solutions in the market, essentially white-labeling PeerApp's technology. As the media caching market has started to consolidate with Alcatel-Lucent buying Velocix and Juniper buying Ankeena, I suspect PeerApp is at the top of a very short list of companies that will be acquired next. Over time, the media caching market will be dominated by the big boys like Cisco, Juniper, Alcatel-Lucent, Bluecoat, Huawei etc. and it's only a matter of time before a dominant player in the space takes out PeerApp for their technology and customers.

Accordent_logo_sm Accordent: Truly a leader in the enterprise video space, Accordent has been providing enterprise class video platforms for more than a decade. In that time they have amassed more than 1,500 customers and have more than 150 of the Fortune 500 using their solution. Combine that with the fact the company has raised about $10M only $4M in funding over the past decade all while still continuing to grow their business and that speaks for itself. I constantly get feedback from a lot of enterprise customers about the video solutions they have deployed inside their network and to this day, I have yet to hear from a single customer who hasn't been happy with Accordent's technology. And if there was some kind of contest for being the nicest people to deal with, Mike and Jeremy at Accordent would be at the top of that list. That may sound silly, but it's one of the reasons why Accordent's customers are so happy and loyal.

435384_435371_logo Cotendo: When Cotendo launched in the market just over two years ago, the industry was already crowded with far too many CDNs primarily focused on delivering video. Knowing this, Cotendo made the smart decision to offer products, like app acceleration, that are more complex, have higher margins and what the industry defines as "value add services". While many of the other CDNs in the industry were trying to change their product portfolio to provide value add services and diversify their revenue, Cotendo was already blazing a trail signing up customers like Facebook and Answers.com. Two years later, the company has more than 150 customers, a major deal with AT&T and is quickly ramping revenue and getting a very good reputation in the industry. Adding to their creditability is the fact that that the leader in this space, Akamai, has filed a patent infringement suit against Cotendo, which clearly goes to show that the company is doing something right.

If you think there a company in the industry that I should consider as a "hot company to watch", please contact me and let me know why. I'm always interested in suggestions.

Disclaimer: At the time of writing this post, none of the companies highlighted are sponsors of my blog.

  • Max Weitzman

    Why you not like Helix and Real Networks? You should write of them, they have done video for so very long and are the experts still, yes? They have the mobile video also with such big customer, no one has this I think.

  • http://www.smoothdrm.com Christopher Levy

    You are joking about the comments about Real and Helix right?

  • InvestorGater

    Dan, you said “. . . Akamai, has filed a patent infringement suit against Cotendo, which clearly goes to show that the company is doing something right.”
    I’m curious:
    1) Do you respect U.S. courts of law, which includes withholding judgment until a verdict has been handed down?
    2) Are you consistently a cheerleader for patent infringers? Or only when the infringed patents belong to Akamai/M.I.T.?

  • http://www.BusinessOfVideo.com Dan Rayburn

    @InvestorGator:
    1) Why would one company sue another if they don’t pose any threat?
    2) I never took any side in the Akamai and Limelight suit or the Level 3 and Limelight suit. At no time on my blog have I ever said I think one side should win over another. All I did was report was the outcome of the trials were.
    But, it should be noted that you are not accurate when you say “patent infringers” as the courts didn’t find any of the CDNs guilty of infringing on any patents. So who was infringing? So far, the courts have said none of them.

  • InvestorGater

    Dan, you asked:
    “Why would one company sue another if they don’t pose any threat?”
    If you had ever spent months or years of your time, energy, and brain output to develop a product and patent it, it wouldn’t even occur to you to ask that question. Do you know why patent laws EXIST? Have you never heard of protecting intellectual property?
    Do you believe it’s perfectly okay to break into a person’s home and steal the person’s valuables? Infringing a patent, which is someone else’s inestimably valuable property, is no less criminal than breaking into a home and stealing its contents.
    Next you said:
    “But, it should be noted that you are not accurate when you say “patent infringers” as the courts didn’t find any of the CDNs guilty of infringing on any patents. So who was infringing? So far, the courts have said none of them.”
    Dan, are you referring only to Akamai’s recent history?
    “Akamai Wins Digital Island Patent Litigation”
    http://www.thewhir.com/web-hosting-news/di1224

  • http://www.BusinessOfVideo.com Dan Rayburn

    You’re argument is that “infringing a patent” is a crime. Yes, but so far, the courts have not found CDNs to be infringing on each others patents. Spending money to protect “intellectual property” that the courts say no one is infringing on is pointless.
    As for the Digital Island and Akamai lawsuit, I know it well. Akamai won the first round, but it was still going through the courts as Digital Island was appealing, they were acquired by Cable & Wireless. Before it could be challenged by C&W they went bankrupt in the U.S. and in order to close down the company, made a one time payment to Akamai to get rid of the suit. That’s not my idea of a successful patent suit.

  • InvestorGater

    Dan, you said:
    “. . . so far, the courts have not found CDNs to be infringing on each others patents. Spending money to protect “intellectual property” that the courts say no one is infringing on is pointless.”
    Dan, how do you interpret this report?
    # # #  An eight-person jury in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts returned a verdict today that Digital Island, Inc. (digitalisland.com) is infringing a patent asserted by Akamai Technologies, Inc. (akamai.com).”  # # #
    (Source cited in my prior comment, above.)
    In your legal dictionary, does “is infringing” mean “is NOT infringing”?  Does your argument depend on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is?
    And the word ‘court’ . . . does “U.S. District Court of Massachusetts” mean “tennis court”?  I would argue that the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts is a squash court, being that the jury squashed Digital Island’s infringement.
    Next, you said:
    “Akamai won the first round, but it was still going through the courts as Digital Island was appealing, they were acquired by Cable & Wireless. Before it could be challenged by C&W they went bankrupt in the U.S. and in order to close down the company, made a one time payment to Akamai to get rid of the suit. That’s not my idea of a successful patent suit.”
    The case’s actual outcome is neither as simple as your summary implies nor as unsuccessful as you conclude:
    # # #  CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – July 1, 2002 – Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM) today announced that the Federal District Court in Boston has granted Akamai’s motion for entry of a permanent injunction against Digital Island, now a part of Exodus, a subsidiary of Cable & Wireless, plc, with respect to Digital Island’s Footprint content delivery service.
    In December 2001, a jury found that Digital Island’s Footprint service infringed multiple claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,108,703 . . . .
    In a key companion ruling, the Court also denied Digital Island’s post-trial motion that the patent was unenforceable.  # # #
    http://www.akamai.com/html/about/press/releases/2002/press_070102.html
    The following month:
    # # #  CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – August 22, 2002 – Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM) today announced that the Federal District Court in Boston has enjoined Cable & Wireless Internet Services, Inc. from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing into the United States, the patented inventions of Claims 1, 3, 5, and 9 of U.S. Patent No. 6,108,703, and from active inducement of infringement of these claims. The Court’s Order requires Cable & Wireless to shut down Digital Island’s Footprint 2.0 service as configured and described at trial. . . .  # # #
    http://www.akamai.com/html/about/press/releases/2002/press_082202.html
    If no court ruled that Digital Island infringed multiple claims of Akamai’s U.S. Patent No. 6,108,703 — and if no court estopped Cable and Wireless from infringing that patent — what, in fact, did the court rule and require?
    And, do you still conclude that Akamai’s infringement suit was unsuccessful?

  • http://www.BusinessOfVideo.com Dan Rayburn

    You and have have different definitions of what “success” from a patent lawsuit equals. By the time Akamai had gotten the ruling Digital Island wasn’t selling their Fooprint services based on that technology anymore and the company was close to filing for chapter 11 anyway. So Akamai spent time and money to go after a company that had a bad business model to begin with. C&W would of gone out of business with or without the Akamai suit.
    If Akamai had gotten a big payment from C&W, Speedera, Limelight etc. then that would be success to me. Or if their suit prevented those companies from doing business and forced them out of the market, I would classify that as success as well. But so far, Akamai has not done that.
    And I’m not picking on Akamai. Level 3 spent a whole bunch of time and money to sue Limelight and what came of that? Nothing. I think all of these suits are pretty silly as so far, they have been almost entirely unsuccessful.

  • InvestorGater

    Dan, you have more Crayolas in your box than Binney & Smith. I am not capable of coloring my arguments with as many tints and hues as you have. So color your argument any way you want to with as many colors as you can create . . . the FACT remains that Akamai WON its lawsuit. Excepting wins achieved by cheating, a win is a success.
    And, VERY importantly, a patent win serves to inhibit future infringements on said patent. When a would-be infringer sees the inventor guarding, like a bulldog, his intellectual property, that would-be infringer is more apt to back off than to aggress. Do you deny that? If you cannot deny that effect of a patent win, then you cannot dispute that Akamai’s patent win was a success.