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BitGravity’s Philosophy: Take It Easy

Wu mentioned an example of that kind of organic growth.

"We’ve been running video delivery for Vimeo for a while now," said Wu, of the higher-definition YouTube-like site. "We've been responsive for them and lived up to our billing, so they recommended us to a sister company – CollegeHumor – which is another highly visible proof point that shows we’re growing organically within our customer base."

"CollegeHumor has a rapidly growing fan base," said Ricky Van Veen, CEO of CollegeHumor. "BitGravity’s highly scalable platform is exactly what we needed to deliver the highest quality video and user experience."

When I asked Wu about his definition of high definition, he responds by saying 720p that BitGravity is capable of delivering 720p.

"Our architecture is different than everybody else's," said Wu, in an interview in early 2007. "Our time to deliver the first packet is faster than our competition, and our throughput is much higher, so we can deliver things like hi-def."

"We don't have a lot of customers asking for 720p," he added during our interview. "For every 100 customers, one will ask for true HD quality."

When prodded about this a bit more, especially given the fact that Flash video using the enhanced VP6 codec is capable of 720p at about 1.5Mbps, Wu noted that there are three reasons he sees BitGravity delivering higher definition rather than true "high-definition."

"There aren’t a lot of devices hooked up to a TV today that can handle 720p," said Wu, "plus the cost of delivery is high and the business models aren't yet there for enough viewers to attract advertisers at CPM rates low enough to be reached by the economies of scale that are available for high-quality non HD content."

Wu also said the business model he sees emerging over the next few years will be straightforward, since CDNs are maturing.

"We have what we think is an enabling technology," said Wu, "that scales in a way that some CDNs are having trouble with even today. If a CDN is having to provide refunds now to their customers—in the first inning of streaming video on the web—what will happen to their infrastructures when they scale?"

"We see the net as a two-way communications medium, so it should differ from traditional TV," continued Wu. "We see a day where the web has both active channels and passive channels. Today the traditional television approach is passive, but the web’s not reached the level of interactivity that allows it to be differentiated from TV."

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