×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ooyala CEO Jonathan Huberman on the Company’s Future After the Brightcove Deal (EXCLUSIVE)

When news about Brightcove acquiring its long-time competitor Ooyala’s online video platform business for $15 million broke in February, many assumed that this would be the end of it for Ooyala. Turns out that was wrong: The acquisition officially closed last week, Ooyala is still and independent company, and its CEO Jonathan Huberman recently caught up with Variety talk about his company’s new focus, and the changing online video business.

First, a bit of a refresher: Ooyala had been one of the companies providing the plumbing for the nascent online video business ever since its founding in 2007. Initially, it focused on providing video hosting for other companies, with a particular focus on the media business. Later, complemented this with ad-tech and video management tools.

The entry into the ad-tech market in 2014 coincided with Ooyala getting acquired by Australian telco giant Telstra, which at the time hoped to become a major technology player, with a significant digital advertising business to boot. Ooyala’s second major focus at the time was the video platform business, as hosting and related infrastructure services are called in the industry, with video management tools ranking last on the list of the company’s internal priorities.

However, Telstra made a course correction last year, writing down much of its investment in Ooyala, and subsequently selling the company to Ooyala’s management for an undisclosed amount.

That newfound independence forced Ooyala to take a hard look at its existing lines of business — and realize that its priorities didn’t make a lot of sense, argued Huberman. “We had that pyramid inverted,” he told Variety in an exclusive interview last week. The ad-tech business in particular was a lot more challenging than Ooyala had anticipated. “We were competing with this little company called Google,” joked Huberman. Ooyala ended up selling its ad-tech business in December.

What’s more, the traditional platform business wasn’t seeing nearly as much growth as Ooyala’s video management tools. “The media and entertainment space has become saturated,” said Huberman. There wasn’t much room to grow with video hosting for media organizations anymore, and competitor Brightcove was much better positioned in the enterprise video market — which is why the company decided to sell its platform business to its longtime competitor earlier this year.

The new Ooyala is entirely focused on what it calls its Flex Media Platform — a set of video management tools that help publishers with their entire supply chain, from production to publishing and analytics. It’s an underserved niche, argued Huberman, with many media companies not having anything similar in place. “We are replacing spreadsheets and Google Docs,” he quipped.

Much of Ooyala’s work these days has been about helping companies integrate various bits and pieces from a variety of vendors into a unified workflow. Just this week, the company announced an integration with Google Cloud Video Intelligence and Avid’s Media Composer tools at NAB in Las Vegas.

It’s nuts and bolts kind of stuff, but it’s been paying off for Ooyala, with Huberman saying that the company’s Flex business has been doubling in size year-over-year, compared to the single-digit growth it had seen in the video platform business. Some of Ooyala’s Flex customers include HBO, Turner and Arsenal FC, with the company set to announce a new deal with U.K. post-production house The Picture Production Company this week.

But while much of what Ooyala is doing is about the plumbing that’s powering online video behind the scenes, there is also a bigger industry story behind the company’s shift of focus. Traditional media companies are increasingly being challenged by tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Google and Netflix.

The tech giants aren’t just spending billions of dollars on content, but also have huge teams to develop sophisticated technology for their video businesses in-house. And in may cases, these companies can subsidize their massive tech investments with money from other lines of business — be it ad sales for Google or iPhones for Apple. “Profits have a different meaning” to these companies, said Huberman.

To compete with these deep pockets, media companies not only have to step up their game and bet big on online content, but also increase their efficiency to make sure they squeeze out every penny out of the videos they have — something that’s not that easy if you rely on spreadsheets and Google Docs. That drive to efficiency will further help Ooyala grow its suite of video management tools. “It is a green-field opportunity,” said Huberman.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • knives Out

    ‘Knives Out’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Lionsgate claims the top spot in spending with “Knives Out.” Ads placed for the drama had an estimated media value of $6.23 million through Sunday for 514 national ad airings on 28 networks. (Spend [...]

  • Disney-Plus-Logo

    Disney Plus Launch Snafus: What Went Wrong?

    For some users, Disney Plus was a Disney Minus on its big launch day Tuesday. In its Nov. 12 debut, the service was beset by multiple problems, including Disney Plus customers being unable to log in to the service, access specific content, or use certain streaming devices — while some who called Disney’s customer service [...]

  • YouTube Taps Shana Tepper as Head

    YouTube Taps Shana Tepper as Head of Entertainment Communications

    YouTube has tapped Shana Tepper as its head of entertainment communications. In her new role, Tepper will lead all press and communications strategies for YouTube Originals series and specials focused on personalities, artists and learning. Tepper joins YouTube from Viacom, where she most recently served as vice president of communications for Comedy Central and Paramount [...]

  • Richard Plepler HBO

    Former HBO Chief Richard Plepler Close to Signing Apple TV Plus Production Pact

    Former HBO chief Richard Plepler is close to signing an exclusive production pact with Apple TV Plus. Apple declined to comment and Plepler could not immediately be reached for comment. It’s understood that Plepler plans to launch a boutique production company designed to focus on a handful of high-profile projects. Among his advisors in pulling [...]

  • Sonos Spotify partnership

    Sonos Speakers Get Free Spotify Streaming

    Sonos owners just got access to another source for free music: The smart speaker maker has struck a deal with Spotify to stream Spotify’s free tier to its users, both companies announced Tuesday. Free Spotify streams are going live on Sonos devices with the latest Sonos software update, which also includes an updated version of [...]

  • looking glass display

    Looking Glass Factory Unveils 8K Holographic Display

    Holographic display hardware startup Looking Glass Factory unveiled its first real product Tuesday: the Looking Glass 8K Immersive Display aims to provide companies with a way to view 3D assets as holograms, without the need to use VR headsets. The product is being sold into the enterprise market, but the company also has plans to [...]

  • Star Wars The Mandalorian

    Why Wall Street Is Feeling Bullish as Disney Plus Blasts Off

    Bob Iger has presided over many launches during his 14 years as Disney CEO: a theme park in Shanghai, state-of-the-art cruise ships, “Star Wars”- and “Avatar”-themed immersive attractions and even a cinematic universe requiring billions of dollars of investment in Marvel movies. But nothing in his tenure has drawn the level of scrutiny that has [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content