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Zixi CEO Gordon Brooks Talks Zixi-Clearhaven Partnership and IP-based Streaming Growth

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On June 14, scalable IP-based media transport software supplier Zixi announced that it had secured a significant strategic investment from Clearhaven Partners, a Boston-based software private-equity firm. At the time of the announcement, Zixi CEO Gordon Brooks described the partnership with Clearhaven as a “natural fit” for Zixi, and one that would enable the company to “double down on product innovation” and “pursue the significant opportunities” in the fast-growing market for IP-based video systems.

We spoke with Gordon to get more insight on the Zixi-Clearhaven partnership and what’s ahead for Zixi, its award-winning Software-Defined Video Platform (SDVP), and IP-based streaming workflows.

zixi ceo gordon brooks

Zixi CEO Gordon Brooks

Streaming Media: Why take an investment? Why not go public?

Gordon Brooks: A good time to take money is when you don’t need it, and we didn’t need it as we are growing quite well and very profitability. But our controlling investor, Schooner Capital, had been with us for over ten years and they were great and helpful at each stage. Their founder, Vin Ryan, was an initial investor in Iron Mountain and he had been using the proceeds from their stock sales to fund investments. But a couple of years ago that stock ran out, and they started to exit about two companies a year in order to continue to fund new investments, so when this opportunity came along, they were agreeable. A little bittersweet after our journey, but ready to fund their next investments.

Going public right now is not for us. It takes a lot of time and is very costly, Sarbanes Oxley and a lot of pricey regulation maintenance. A private equity investment with Clearhaven helps us look at the long-term growth and new strategic possibilities 3–5 years down the road. Maybe we will look at an IPO then.

SM: Obviously, an acquisition like this is all about capitalization, and enabling a company like Zixi to grow--which by all appearances it was doing quite a bit of already, particularly expanding into IP-based cloud and REMI production for major sports leagues. Is sports expected to be a continued area of growth for Zixi?

GB: Sports has been strong, but demand continues to grow and we are seeing expansion from OTT platforms like Amazon Video, Fubo and AppleTV+ as they obtain the content rights for major sporting leagues that has been traditional held by the legacy broadcast networks and the need to deliver that flawlessly to multiple partners all the time. And then that has put us on the radar of the sports leagues with the NHL, MLB, MLS and others standardizing on Zixi for their content which breeds more and more distribution. One major customer has gone from a few events in 2021, to 28K in 2023 and expected to broadcast over 100K this year alone. And that is just Tier 1 content, with partners like FloSports and Pixellot delivering over a million Tier 2 and Tier 3 content each year.

SM: Are there other specific plans you can talk about in terms of how Zixi will use the investment?

GB: This is primarily a recapitalization, but it does present the option for potential strategic acquisition if there are some complementary companies available. Otherwise, our plan is to work on our organic product roadmap development and geographic expansion just as we would have without the investment.

SM: Strategically, how does Clearhaven benefit?

GB: Clearhaven is partnering with Zixi, the global leader, at a time when the media and entertainment industry is in a bit of chaos and will help us continue to grow as this market sorts itself out. They have a strong belief in the video software space, also investing in Wowza and SundaySky, and see the very large opportunity in the market as workflows continue to migrate to the cloud and IP workflows. Sixty percent of satellite c-band is being reallocated, and media organizations are looking for multiple new ways to personalize and monetize content with Zixi transport and management offerings, so Clearhaven will ultimately be able to realize the benefit of our next level of growth.

SM: What else do Streaming Media readers need to know about what this means for Zixi? Or for IP-based live streaming?

GB: Clearhaven had the faith in Zixi and the executive management team to make the very significant investment, and the management team is equally as optimistic and investing alongside them in recognition of their expertise in scaling enterprise software businesses as this exciting new chapter of Zixi’s journey to solve complex problems for the world’s largest media organizations begins.

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