IBM Acquires Ustream, Creates Cloud-Based Video Services Unit
Ustream will join other IBM acquisition targets—Clearleap, Cleversafe, and Aspera—in comprising an end-to-end cloud video solution.
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In the first big acquisition news of 2016, IBM announced that it has purchased live video streamer Ustream. While neither company gave a purchase price, Fortune and the Wall Street Journal report that it went for $130 million in cash, as well as employee retention bonuses and possible earn-outs. CrunchBase reports that Ustream had taken in $60.3 million in funding from 11 investors.
The acquisition is part of IBM's plan to create a cloud video services unit. Other pieces of the new division include Clearleap (for video management), Cleversafe (for storage), and Aspera (for video transfer). IBM previously acquired those three companies. IBM also plans to bring in Watson for video analytics, creating an end-to-end solution where customers can upload, store, and manage both live and on-demand videos, use analytics to optimize performance, manage rights and language features, and stream videos to viewers around the world. Leading the video services unit is Braxton Jarratt, CEO of Clearleap.
Ustream counts NASA, Samsung, Facebook, Nike, and the Discovery Channel as customers. It delivers live and on-demand streams to 80 million viewers each month. In its announcement, IBM notes that the Ustream Development Platform, which lets companies create custom video apps for any device or embed video into any application, is Ustream's chief asset. IBM will integrate the platform into Bluemix, its cloud app development platform.
After revolutionizing large-file transfer for the entertainment industry, Aspera's technology will now aid cloud computing and big data.
Not just a live streamer, Ustream supports video-on-demand, enterprise-level security, and lead generation. Its strength, however, is still with live video.
Harmonic puts together a team that can attract customers on a global scale, while IBM looks to bolster its cloud services.
While video streaming issues are a major hassle for subscription video customers, it's the ads and high costs that are more likely to drive them away, finds IBM.