Thursday, April 5, 2007
Interview with Ken Fitzpatrick, CEO, Ubiquity TV
Our interview today is with Ken Fitzpatrick, CEO of Ubiquity TV (www.anyon.com), a new startup that is developing a new, peer-to-peer IPTV platform that it is targeted for live video broadcasting. Ubiquity TV has its headquarters split between Newport Beach and Silver Spring, Maryland. The firm rolled out its software last month, and we though it would be interesting to hear about the product. Ben Kuo spoke with Ken.
What is Ubiquity TV?
Ken Fitzpatrick: I've been in high tech for my my entire career, and have run very large organizations and very cool startups, two of which I've sold. I've always kept my fingers on emerging technology. Clearly, in the category called social media--the MySpace, the YouTube, in these collaboration tools--people are leveraging the power of the internet to communicate more effectively through many methods and means. The preferred method is video. No one has really cracked the nut on how you leverage the Internet--which is basically free--and put a business together that can benefit content providers, service providers, and also have a massive appeal to the end user. We've done that with Ubiquity TV. What we've created is some very, very powerful but elegant software which empowers user-generated TV.
What's the market you're targeting with this product?
Ken Fitzpatrick: In the last few years, there has been lots of great technology developed in this social media space. There has been a lot of discussion on peer to peer technology, which allows for massive consumer consumption of files. There has also been a lot of activity from big content providers that own music files, and people who are developing platforms on how to get this music cheaply to the masses. Peer-to-peer is a way to package files, and send them quickly and efficiently, and inexpensively, using standard broadband connections. You don't need large capacity bandwidth, just a cable or DSL modem. In the music space, the Kazaas, the Limewires, and iTunes have been very successful. Video is a little different beast. To do streaming of video real time, live over the Internet, using the traditional method--how you might see something on Bloomberg, or CNN, or Disney--that costs them a large amount of infrastructure, in terms of hardware, servers, storage devices, and the additional cost of bandwidth. Why is that? It's very difficult to move large file sin real time to do streaming. We've cracked that nut with Ubiquity TV, which is a patented peer-to-peer technology and architecture, along with content delivery network technology our team has developed over the years. It's an elaborate, inexpensive way to allow content providers to do live, real time streaming of video.
There are lots of content delivery, peer-to-peer, and other companies, what's your unique angle and what to you offer that the others don't?
Ken Fitzpatrick: There's BitTorrent, Orb Networks, and Skype. The difference between us and Orb and BitTorrent is that no one does live, real time streaming of video. The other difference is we give you the ability to create channels--taking the best of traditional TV, and taking ubiquitous web technology to make it so that anytime, 24/7 you can customize, see what I want, when I want to see, bring it with me, and I don't have to buy another box. Others are not real time, and don't allow for live streaming, and don't give you the flexibility of creating a channel. Along with the fact that we can do live streaming and channel creation, we also offer the capability to communicate and send messages to the end user community who you are allowing to view your channels. We also have tracking and control built into the product, so that content owners can ensure only people who are allowed to can view a channel, and prevent content from being copied. It's very appealing and compelling to a content owner.
What's the story behind the firm--how long have you been around and how did the company start?
Ken Fitzpatrick: I've been around working with some very large companies. Some of my colleagues back east --who have worked for me at big corporations like IBM, developing technology and running development organizations, and some also worked for me at Computer Associates. I'm on the west coast, but stayed in touch with them, and crossed paths two years ago. I've known these guys for a dozen or more years, five of them with Ph. D.s, who have been working on and have built some content delivery network technology for other companies. I was talking with them two years ago about some technology and applying it to video. We also have a small engineering team in China.
How are you funded?
Ken Fitzpatrick: We were formed in 2006, and we have a beta product, and which we have at some very large companies. One large Chinese CCTV firm, Great Wall Ltd., and ISP, is using it. We also have a local production company here in Orange County which has signed an agreement with us. A partner and I have put our own cash in to kick start the company, and we are seeking additional capital right now to accelerate our lead in the market. We also have a handful of additional private investors. We're now looking for an A round and going to the VC community.
We have a lead today, and we know the guys in our space doing anything with video, particularly peer to peer. It's very important because of the economic advantage of just using a standard broadband connection. When YouTube hosts video clips, it costs anywhere from $2 million to $4 million dollars a month, just to pay for storage and servers, because it's a hosted client-server application. You take a video and post it on there, and they have to pay for that so that the masses can go view it. We are truly providing user-generated TV. There's a massive appeal for our product for a very large underserved market, for the niche content providers--such as church associations and local high school sports like high school football. If you have a digital camera, you can plug into your PC, and using a camcorder or mobile phone you could broadcast your daughter's lacrosse game live to a laptop or a cell phone. All you need is a broadband connection to make it available to the public--so anyone can view it. We have a market lead, have very smart people on the team, and we're it's a matter of getting the word out to the investment community. I'm focused full time on getting the word out to help us extend that lead.