Last week Encoding.com hit a critical milestone in it’s evolution and history. We processed our 50 millionth encoding job! The lucky #50M was generated by one of our most prestigious clients, Aol On. It’s been a long road since launching the company and encoding our first video 5 years ago. Back then, Flash video (FLV) ruled the day.
I remember the first conversation I had with Gregg (founder of Encoding.com) about video transcoding back in October, 2008. He educated the dummy on the other end of the line that all videos that we watch online must be converted (or “transcoded") to different formats or profiles to play successfully on the varied browsers that consumers were using. He said, “Think of Encoding.com as the tollbooth for which all videos must pass." That resonated very well with me and I pushed on Gregg to let me join in the mission to disrupt the video transcoding world.
Prior to our pioneering use of a cloud-based SaaS approach to video processing, all transcoding was done using on-premise hardware / software solutions. Gregg was all too familiar with the cost and headaches associated to managing a high-volume transcoding workflow in-house as he had a small company building and managing popular video sites. He looked to the market for a software-as-a-service solution but there was none. Hmmm…. Around the same time, Amazon Web Services was born and made their EC2 cloud computing platform available for developers. Eureka!
In 2007, Gregg started putting together an API based, online transcoding service that could scale using EC2. It was around this same time the first android phone hit the market. In 2008, Encoding.com launched v1 of our disruptive service. The smart concept landed us second place in the Amazon Startup Challenge. Leveraging that momentum, I joined Encoding.com as president and opened the San Francisco office. Gregg’s brilliant product vision and my ability to rally supporters behind the concept has proven to be a pretty good recipe for success.
The iPhone was another important milestone for Encoding.com. When Apple integrated HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) for seamless video playback, a champion was born, further driving the consumption of online video. Unfortunately for most video content publishers who already invested in their in-house encoding infrastructure, they needed a solution to publish HLS video to iPhones. As Encoding.com was the first in market to support transcoding and packaging for HLS, many turned to us for help.
As internet connected devices started to emerge by the dozen, the online video format wars were just starting to heat up. Google announced the acquisition of WebM technology, and Adobe announced support for h.264 for Flash. Microsoft joined the party by offering support for HTML5 video in Internet Explorer sometime in 2010. Encoding.com also got named as Streaming Media’s Editor’s Pick Hottest Companies in online video while completing our 5 millionth encoding job.
In 2011, Android really came into it’s own, surpassing iOS as the predominant mobile OS. iPhone was still the most popular handset. Roku and AppleTV became firmly established as leaders in the OTT market. Customers began coming to us looking for a solution to solve the complexity of publishing video to the ever-increasing number of devices and platforms. One customer lamented, “iOS vs Android, Flash vs HTML5… can you just make it work. Please."
While attending a birthday party for a friend of my 6-year old, I received a call from Gregg. “I got it," he said. “The simple solution for multi-device publishing… a universal video URL." Thus, Vid.ly was born. Transcoding, storage, streaming, device detection, a configurable player, advertising, analytics… all wrapped up in a single URL.
Soon after we launched Vid.ly, we encoded out 10 millionth video. We weren’t the only ones busy. Apple sold 100 million iPhones, and 25 million iPads. Amazon launched the Kindle Fire (with video support), and Microsoft launched Windows Phone to compete with iOS and Android. More devices, more video renditions required. Encoding.com had established ourselves as a leading platform to simplify the increasing chaos in the video ecosystem.
Reflecting back on the past five years and the roller-coaster ride that is the Startup, it’s always been about “the team, the team, team." (Bo Schembechler, UofM) Working with Gregg and the entire Encoding.com team to see our vision through has been a fantastic experience. We continue to support thousands of great companies doing extraordinary things with video.
So, what lies ahead? Our next release is always just around the corner. More disruption coming…