In this weekly series, CNBC takes a look at the companies that made the inaugural Disruptor 50 list 10 years later.
In 2006, after watching a football game with a bulky and unimpressive production setup, LiveU founders Avi Cohen, Samuel Wasserman and Rony Ohayon were inspired to create a product that would consolidate video production materials, making live video streaming a smoother and simpler process.
In its first year, the Israel-based startup’s demo hardware, which was only half the size of a laptop and claimed to reliably and cost-effectively deliver up to 2MB per second, impressed Investors.
And so does their mission – to use existing cellular, Wi-Fi, and WiMAX signals to transmit live video and provide a more reliable and affordable alternative to satellite truckloads of TV news.
LiveU was launched at a crucial time as traditional broadcasters and online outlets provided a rapidly growing demand for live video transmission over cellular. Not only were TV broadcasters held to higher standards of quality and turnaround time, but mass streaming services, like YouTube and Justin.tv (now Twitch), were growing in popularity and creating consumer demand. online videos and live streaming. That promise led to a combined funding of $23 million in Series AC.
And LiveU was ready to meet this demand. By 2012, due to its evolving technology, the company had become the go-to for many companies looking to bring HD video to the field, including the BBC and NBC. The same year, the company raised an additional $27,000,000 in Series D funding.
This marked a turning point for the company as it moved beyond its roots in hardware, specifically its 3G/4G LTE backpack which connected to a video camera to allow a producer to transmit streams. real-time high-quality video, instead focusing on being a solution-oriented company.
One such solution was LiveU Solo, which allowed users to live stream from professional cameras directly to platforms such as YouTube Live and Facebook.
But ultimately, LiveU caused the biggest disruption in news delivery.
While certainly enhancing stand-alone broadcast events, like the soccer matches that first inspired the company, LiveU’s technology has helped bring “news gathering into the age of the internet,” said described Ronen Artman, vice president of marketing at LiveU, in a company blog post.
LiveU’s technology has enabled journalists and broadcasters to get up close to the action and broadcast it instantly.
ABC News President James Goldston, in a memo to staff in 2014, directly accredited its evolution for newscasters to LiveU – “From the streets of Ferguson to the Pope’s daily Mass, everyone at ABC News now has the ability, using the LiveU app on their mobile devices, to livestream what’s happening on the ground to our digital, broadcast and Apple TV platforms anytime and from anywhere.
LiveU found a promising niche in political news as networks increasingly relied on LiveU technology to broadcast elections around the world, including the 2016 and 2020 US elections.
This growth helped put it in the spotlight for the private equity firmIn 2019, Francisco Partners, a global technology-focused private equity firm, together with co-investor IGP Capital, acquired LiveU for 200 million of dollars.
Then 25 months later at TK, LiveU was acquired by The Carlyle Group for $400 million.
The near doubling of its valuation in less than two years is a testament not only to the increased sophistication of its solutions, but also to the surge in demand for live video content which continues to grow alongside the Internet.
This demand was then greatly intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic, as important events like weddings, graduations and sporting events were forced to attend virtually. And it’s these big, high-traffic events in particular that have required a new sophistication in streaming.
For this reason, LiveU’s new product evolutions have focused on disrupting sports, much like the broadcast news industry.
In 2020, during the Tokyo Olympics, which couldn’t have a live audience, LiveU enabled a deeply intimate streaming experience, not only covering major events, “but also allowing viewers to experience so many other moments – athletes’ reactions after the finish, fans watching outside stadiums, coaches’ comments in the locker room and medal ceremonies,” according to CEO Samuel Wasserman.
“With the growing demand for live content, our solutions help bridge the gap between athletes and viewers around the world, providing a complete sports experience,” he continued.
LiveU customers now include global broadcasters and news agencies, as well as NASA, American Airlines and Amazon, with its products powering coverage of some of the most live-streamed events, such as the election. US Presidential, FIFA World Cup, Winter and Summer Olympics and Super Bowl.
Earlier this year, LiveU set its cloud ambitions, launching a solution for automatically recording and tagging live video metadata, following LiveU’s evolution from a hardware alternative to satellite trucks to a video contribution end-to-end, production and broadcast solution.
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