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Brightcove: It's Foggy Now, but Clear Skies Ahead?

While the idea sounds ambitious and fills an obvious hole in the distribution chain, Allaire is not offering many details about just how he intends to make Brightcove a success.

Allaire cites recent trends as indicative of a market that is ready for Brightcove, however. The adoption of broadband connectivity, an increase in home networking, advances in rich media formats, and growth of the portable Internet-enabled hardware market all have contributed to creating an environment in which a distribution model such as Brightcove’s just might work.

Curiosity Killed the Cat
Because Allaire and others have been tight-lipped about the specifics of Brightcove’s services, speculation has been rampant. Rafat Ali commented on PaidContent.org that Brightcove should "pick a niche and focus. It might be difficult to develop services which cater to every constituency in this growing democracy of video online…Overarching ambition to converge all of this is great, but may be too much to handle." In response to assumptions that Brightcove will be tackling more than they plan to, Allaire simply says "we’re not trying to do everything and be everything to all people.

"We’re not betting the business on getting major studios to distribute through us," Allaire concedes, nor does he expect broadcast networks to use Brightcove for distribution. "That narrows us to content that has been financially inconvenient to distribute before," says Allaire, as well as content that has longevity beyond regular distribution channels.

Brightcove will not be offering its own set-top boxes but will create services that support distribution via cable television companies’ set-top boxes, XBoxes, and Windows Media Center-enabled PCs that are designed to work with television sets and other devices.

Brightcove will operate as an open-publishing platform around a shared risk-reward economic approach, says Allaire. Brightcove will split profits with content providers once content is sold to consumers, although details regarding the payment process are unclear. Allaire will also not comment on general availability of Brightcove’s services, except to say that it will be later this year.

Go Team
So what else do we know? To begin with, the team behind Brightcove knows what they are doing. Eric Elia, VP of content and online services, came to Brightcove, from Comcast, where he led the development and user experience of Comcast.net. Bob Mason, Brightcove’s VP of technology, was formerly at Art Technology Group (ATG and was a founding member of ATG’s product development team. Tareef Kawaf, Brightcove’s VP of engineering, comes from Ruckus Network, Inc., and was also formerly with ATG. Brightcove’s VP of business development and strategy, Elisabeth Bentel Carpenter, hails from News Corporation’s British Sky Broadcasting subsidiary in London.

Then there’s Allaire himself, who has quite a pedigree. Allaire co-founded Allaire Corporation and was a major player in the development of Cold Fusion. Allaire Corp. was sold to Macromedia for $360 million, and Allaire proceeded to serve at Macromedia as CTO until moving to General Catalyst Partners, a venture capital group that is a major Brightcove backer.

Brightcove has received $5.5 million in funding from General Catalyst and Accel Partners; the Series A funding round closed last year, according to Allaire, but was not announced until March 1, 2005, when the company had officially launched. Allaire seems content to use the $5.5 million for product development, business development, and increasing the number of Brightcove employees, which currently sits at 15. Allaire says he has no plans to explore additional financing opportunities at this point.

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