The Edge

Videon lands cash, hires CEO, as it looks to scale up live streaming biz

It took more than two decades to happen, but Videon has raised its first-ever round of funding as it attempts to drive scale into a business laser-focused on edge computing and live streaming.

Videon, a supplier of small, relatively inexpensive live streaming video encoders, has effectively operated under a bootstrapped funding model since its founding in 1997. But that all changed Tuesday with word that the company has raised $7.3 million in a Series A round led by Voyager Capital, along with participation from Arnold Venture Group and former Adobe Systems CEO Bruce Chizen. In tandem, the company has hired Rob Green, a Seattle-based exec late of Microsoft and Akamai, as its new CEO.

Videon's roots extend to early HDTV tuners, DVD-ROM upgrade kits, the original Google TV gadget and the first video casting app for Google's Chromecast streaming adapter. The company believes it's positioned to grow, and grow fast, as the market clamors for relatively inexpensive live video streaming devices that scrunch together the capabilities of a video encoder and an edge compute platform... with plans for 5G connectivity on the near-term horizon.

The "edge," when viewed through the Videon lens, is the point of origin – such as a sporting or news event or a concert venue.

Videon's recent focus has been on small, on-premises, field-deployable live streaming distribution devices that take advantage of a partnership with Qualcomm to enable Videon to repurpose Qualcomm chips. Rather than relying on separate devices for video encoding and processing, and other systems for applications that can run in parallel, Videon effectively combines them all in a small, relatively inexpensive form factor.

Videon's current lineup includes the VersaStreamer 4K, a small 4K-capable HEVC encoder.  
(Image source: Videon)
Videon's current lineup includes the VersaStreamer 4K, a small 4K-capable HEVC encoder.
(Image source: Videon)

"We've extended the cloud to the edge," Green said.

Todd Erdley, Videon's founder, chairman and president, acknowledges that a video encoding specialist such as Harmonic or Ateme or even an AWS could probably pull off what Videon has achieved. "But what we're talking about is a totally different price range, a totally different form factor, a totally different audience," he said.

Thanks in part to existing deals with broadcasters and individual leagues, Videon's tech and products have already been tied into a wide range of sporting events around the world. But the company believes it can do more with the additional funding and focus.

With the need for simplified live streaming on the rise, Videon hired Green to help the company scale up and beef up its presence in the market. It will use a portion of the new funds to bulk up on sales, marketing and other areas designed to grow the business at a rate it could not do before.

"This is an inflection point. Now is go-time," said Erdley. "We know how to position well [in the market]; what we don't know how to do is scale."

"We think we can really scale at this point," Green said.

Voyager Capital likes Videon's angle into the market. "I think the biggest disruptors often come at the market from the bottom up, replacing the need for more expensive products," Erik Benson, managing director at Voyager Capital, a firm that also led Series A rounds for Elemental Technologies (now part of Amazon) and Make.TV (a live streaming tech company acquired by LTN Global in 2019), said in a statement. "Videon has huge near-term growth potential because its price point makes it possible for literally anyone to stream high-quality, low-latency live video."

Erdley believes that Videon's connection to Qualcomm, and its ability to tie in more and more advanced chipsets and connectivity options down the road, will also put the company in position to hook its edge compute platform into 5G networks.

"You can expect us to be a very strong early entrant in 5G," Erdley said. "We believe strongly that the enablement opportunity for field deployment of edge-based devices, where the edge is that point of origin with 5G, is another transformative opportunity."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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