Brightcove, Surviving the Recession, Seeks New Fortune in Cloud Content

6/5/12Follow @gthuang

Whatever happened to Brightcove? You know, the Jeremy Allaire company known for developing a Web video-hosting platform and raising lots of money in the mid-to-late 2000s?

Well, for starters, it went public in February with a $55 million IPO. That didn’t begin to match the $103 million it had raised from prominent venture investors, including Accel Partners and General Catalyst, but it did help the company get to a healthy $300 million-plus market capitalization.

Brightcove (NASDAQ: BCOV) recently crossed the Charles River, setting up new headquarters in Boston after many years in Cambridge. The move is symbolic of something bigger. The company has also crossed over from being solely focused on Internet video to working with mobile devices and different types of digital content and services, such as apps for brand marketing. Its recent moves suggest it is trying to find new ways to make money by distributing content in the cloud more broadly.

In May, the company announced its first-quarter stats, which included quarterly revenues of $19.9 million (up from $13.1 million during the same period in 2011) and new customers such as Toyota and Starwood Hotels & Resorts (the company has some 4,400 customers in total). Brightcove is not currently profitable, but it flirted with profitability in recent years—2009 in particular—before investing more heavily in international growth and product development.

At the highest level, Brightcove’s vision is “to publish and distribute the world’s digital media,” says Jeff Whatcott, the firm’s chief marketing officer. “We believe in the power of the cloud, and we believe that content belongs in the cloud.”

That might sound a little nebulous, but let’s back up to understand the context. Brightcove started in 2004, led by Allaire, a tech entrepreneur and investor best known for helping create the Flash video format at Macromedia (now part of Adobe). Whatcott, another Macromedia alum, joined the firm in late 2008 after a restructuring that he says got Brightcove “properly set up for success.” As Whatcott explains, “The whole world was battening down the hatches. We pared back on some initiatives we had experimented with, focused in on the core, and made staffing changes right before I came in.”

It was a tough time for a lot of Web companies. “We continued to grow and succeed through that time frame, with more of a defensive posture, which I think was prudent at the time,” Whatcott says. “During the financial crisis, we did have some customers that went out of business. But to offset that, the general trend of video, which was our only business at that time, continued to be strong through the crisis.” Indeed, some big newspapers and media companies like the New York Times and Washington Post (noted Brightcove partners) upped their investment in video content, which seemed to help Brightcove’s prospects.

Now things are getting more complicated for the business—but that also means there could be more opportunities. … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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