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Verizon Helps Put $8M Into Skyfire

Sarah Thomas

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s investment arm, Verizon Ventures, has joined Matrix Partners , Trinity Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners to inject $8 million in series C funding into mobile video optimization vendor Skyfire Inc.

Skyfire CEO Jeff Glueck says the company plans to use the funding to increase its engineering, sales and support resources, especially in Europe and Asia, where wireless operators are beginning to witness the capacity crunch the smartphone-centric U.S. has in recent years.

The company offers a direct-to-consumer browser overlay that's been downloaded 12 million times, but now it's placing most of its emphasis on where the real money is -- the wireless operators, Glueck says. Its Rocket Optimizer 2.0 promises them an average of 60 percent video bandwidth savings by converting and compressing video formats to their most network-friendly form on the fly. (See Skyfire Launches LTE Mobile Video Optimizer and Skyfire Updates its Browser for Android.)

"We offer the ability to take video in any format from any publisher to any device in 200 milliseconds to create an adaptive stream based on network conditions, end-user screen size and policy design," Glueck explains.

The startup also added two new execs in the sales department. John Rintoul, formerly of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), will act as VP of sales for Skyfire's new EMEA office in London, and former Seven Networks Inc. and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) exec Scott Boehmer will be VP of sales for Americas.

Why this matters
Skyfire's customer list is no doubt growing as mobile video viewership grows across the globe. Wireless operators are trying a number of different strategies to ease the strain, and video optimization is a popular one. (See Skyfire Sets Sights on iPad, Carriers and 2010 Top Ten: Startups to Watch.)

Verizon likely has a particular interest in Skyfire, because mobile video optimization is the strategy being used on the Verizon Video service on Long Term Evolution (LTE). Glueck wouldn't confirm whether Verizon was a customer, but it's safe to assume the carrier has a vested interest in the company. (See Verizon Video Hits its LTE Network.)

Skyfire's mobile video optimization service is set to get more helpful, too. Glueck says the company will soon start applying policy decisions to traffic to allow operators to monetize video separately from other data. Skyfire also offers a "Rocket Toolbar" on which an operator can personalize its carrier portal with more potential moneymakers -- advertising, promotions and recommendations. For more
Read up on how wireless operators are approaching mobile video below.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:44:38 PM
re: Verizon Helps Put $8M Into Skyfire

The Toolbar is an interesting concept, and I definitely see why operators would want to use it for ads and to promote their own apps and what not. That's been annoying in the past, except that Skyfire says you can turn it off. Hopefully that will help convince the operators to make it worthwhile.

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