Clearleap Hops on $9M 'A' Round
The company is still in stealth mode, having been founded in mid-2007, and therefore isn't sharing many details about its specific aims or the technical innards of its technology and service platform. People familiar with the company say much of its strategy centers on a new breed of asset management tools and systems for the full range of "traditional" TV service operators.
Perhaps that shouldn't be a huge surprise considering its founders' roots. Braxton Jarratt, Clearleap's CEO, and John Vecchio, its executive VP of technology, are both vets of N2 Broadband, a successful video-on-demand backoffice and asset management company that was sold to Tandberg Television in 2005 for about $120 million. Vecchio is also late of Scientific Atlanta (now part of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)). Other members of Clearleap's initial executive team also come from N2 Broadband and Tandberg.
Clearleap expects to shed more light on its product and service plans in the second half of 2008, but like many startups, the company has its sights on the intersection between managed video networks and the massive amounts of video being fed by the Internet.
"There are a lot of startups out there [delivering] video over the Internet to PCs and other devices. We think that's valid and important, but we think all of those people who are consuming that content are going there in large part because it's the only place to get it," Jarratt says.
Another place Clearleap believes consumers should be able to get that video is the television, and at qualities that are better than what they're able to squeeze out on PC screens.
It appears that much of Clearleap's platform will be made to hook into the service providers' current infrastructure. That probably will mean enabling traditional set-tops to receive video and other content directly from the Internet or through an Internet video service that's managed by the service operator.
In addition to targeting traditional video service providers, including telco TV, cable, and satellite operators, Clearleap will try to secure business with studios and other creators of content.
While Clearleap isn't exactly being clear yet about what its technology and service intentions are, it's being more than clear about what it won't be. "We're not recreating the CDN [content distribution network] wheel," Jarratt explains.
Clearleap has already lined up some yet-to-be-named customers, he claims.
Given the recent history of Clearleap's founders, consider cable to be among the leading early-taker candidates. N2 Broadband cut its teeth on the cable industry, and got the ball rolling with some significant deployments with Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC).
And it appears that those stars could align again. Jim Chiddix, the former chief technology officer of Time Warner Cable, took a minority stake in Clearleap (the amount is undisclosed) and is a member of the startup's advisory board.
Clearleap has fewer than 20 employees, but it expects to hire a couple dozen more through the rest of the year.
Clearleap may eventually seek a B round of funding, but Jarratt believes the $9 million secured last week will get the company "pretty far down the road with full commercialization of the product."
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News