Ooyala CTO: An IPO is likely…at some point

SANTA CLARA--An IPO for online video platform Ooyala? "Yes... at some point I'm sure we will," said CTO Sean Knapp. "But there's no need at the moment, we have access to plenty of cash."

Knapp, one of the founders of the company, told FierceOnlineVideo that the company had a strong 2011, seeing triple digit percentage growth in revenue and users, and he said the company likely would see the same growth in 2012. And, he said, that included a major hiring push to grow its staff of 230.

Knapp said he believed online video had reached a threshold of sorts, as its growing popularity has made it both a legitimate threat to some businesses and an opportunity to others.

Online video, he said, is changing the way businesses go to consumers. The recent Victoria Secret Fashion Show, for example, was broadcast across multiple platforms.

"It looked like long-form content," he said.

Knapp also pointed out that more companies, Bloomberg, ESPN and Miramax, for example, increasingly are taking their content directly to consumers.

"Online video really isn't a new industry," he said. "We watch the stuff we always have, just in a different stream."

And, he said, Hollywood's efforts to accelerate consumer's acceptance of UltraViolet, which has struggled because of a lack of content, confusing access and surprisingly high prices, likely would soon be getting a boost from an unlikely source: Movie theater chains.

Knapp said theaters soon would be advancing a plan that would offer movie-goers access to a film online if they paid an additional fee when they purchased their tickets.

"Theaters still write the biggest checks (to Hollywood)," he said, adding that offering their customers access to films in a digital locker would help replace declining revenues from slowing DVD sales. Theaters have been slow to push the plan, he said, because "it's far from what they do."

But, Knapp said, despite slow adoption by consumers and retailers, UltraViolet has a "fantastic framework."

The growth of online video has grown dramatically, he said, primarily because of availability of content and the proliferation of devices.

"We have lots of content. That's solved the issues of availability and of consumer desire for it," he said. "The big question remains, are we getting it soon enough?"

Knapp pointed to ESPN, a recent customer win for the company, as a content owner who is regularly experimenting with and embracing online video.

"Their existing business did not need to be disrupted; it already had great distribution," he said. But Ooyala sold it on moving to its video platform.

"Their reach was good; now it's better," Knapp said. As a result, ESPN is getting even more unique viewers than before. "That all equates to found money," for ESPN, he said.

And, he said, Ooyala's platform allows them to test market their video.

"They can window content in, window it out in seconds," he said.

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