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Video Quality Control Startup Mux Takes $2.8M in Seed Funding

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Major online video publishers know quality control is crucial, and viewers who experience buffering sometimes don't come back. They employ pricey services to ensure their feeds stream smoothly. But what can mid-size publishers with fewer resources do?

Meet Mux, a startup created by Zencoder's founders, which has taken $2.8 million in seed funding. Brightcove acquired Zencoder in 2012. Now, Zencoder founders Jon Dahl and Steve Heffernan have joined with engineers Matthew McClure and Adam Brown to create Mux, a quality control solution targeting mid-size media companies.

"When it came time to do something new, we saw that the biggest need was for better data for video publishers," Dahl explains. "This is an industry that's maturing. It's still young, but it's getting more mature and as that happens people are going to have to become more data-driven in the way that they publish video. That's the general problem that we are going after."

Mux customers insert a Mux SDK next to their video player, and that SDK monitors the user experience. It relays information on load times, quality, and errors. Customers then view aggregated data through an online dashboard or export it to their other analytics tools. Mux delivers information about a minute after viewing, so it's not a solution for correcting real-time errors in live streams.

At the start, Mux will only work with HTML5 browser-based video, but iOS, Android, and OTT solutions are in the works.

"We're targeting companies whose business is media," Dahl says. "Mid-sized companies like Funny or Die, IGN, are some of our early beta customers. We also see this being applicable to anyone who doesn't really want to invest heavily in their own software in this area. Media companies, oftentimes they're better off focusing on their content and not building everything themselves."

When presented with viewer data, media companies often discover quick changes they can make, Dahl says, such as changing their encoding renditions or improving their CDN strategy. Mux's data is also useful for A/B testing or informing buying decisions.

Mux began operations in January and now has 10 employees total. Self-funded for the first months, it has now taken in $2.8 million from SV Angel, Lowercase Capital, Susa Ventures, Liquid 2 Ventures, Advancit Capital, and Y Combinator, as well as Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison, Parse founder Ilya Sukhar, and Heroku founder James Lindenbaum.

As for the company name, it has a variety of meanings. "It's short for multiplex," Dahl explains. "It's obviously a technical term in the world of video, but we also like it because muxing literally means combining multiple signals into one channel. We think it has a nice relationship to what we're doing with analytics."

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