Friday, February 17, 2012

The Not So Bright Cove..

As someone who has created three leading companies in the online video serving space, including taking the first internet TV platform company public in the US seven years ago,  I think I'm well qualified to comment on Brightcove's IPO.

The company first came to my notice shortly before the IPO of my company Narrowstep (NRWS). It was formed by a very able guy who had created a number of successful software companies. So, Jeremy Allaire's new company was always going to have a head start.

But, the reality from then to now is disappointing beyond belief.

The company had revenues of $68m and losses of $18m last year. It's a company that has now raised $155m and this revenue is loose change for a successful startup these days. The company goes public with a balance sheet that might have been reasonable for a startup, but for a seven year old company, still making losses on this scale just proves that the numpties who bought into the IPO will, eventually, lose everything.

Meanwhile, VidZapper, a direct competitor started by me some three years ago, is profitable (not just profitable, we have gross margins of over 50%) and charges much cheaper rates for the same service. Our turnover is, however, surprisingly lower, but it's fun pointing out in competitive pitches that customers are comparing companies who have to raise money to survive against profitable and sustainable suppliers.

But, hey ho, that's the public market for you - the stock has clearly got heavy front running going on, but expect it all to fall away six months from now and become a dog as soon as the stock support is pulled.

Brightcove has already had to diversify into app creation since the core video management market it dominates is incapable of generating profits. I'm not privy to the story it sold to the markets in order to get its IPO away. All I only know that the chances of VidZapper being around ten year from now are ten times higher than Brightcove being in existence. Caveat emptor, or to mix my languages, tele-vision caveat emptor.