The player: Mike Hudack, CEO of blip.tv
The play: Blip.tv is one of a handful of technology enablers making the picks and shovels for the Internet video business. These toolmakers are snaring both venture dollars and deals with TV networks in the new broadband video age. Blip.tv recently inked deals with Oxygen and CNN to power the user-generated video submissions on their sites.
The pitch: Blip.tv helps content creators get their video online quickly, encoding it for Web viewing, portable devices and iTunes. Blip.tv operates as a video-sharing service with a focus on video blogging and podcasting. It allows people to upload and share video on their sites or other sites. In addition to helping the guy down the street with a cellphone camera, blip.tv also serves TV networks with user-generated content forums, as Oxygen and CNN provide. For instance, blip.tv provides the software that lets CNN viewers submit news videos online. “We are a service for content creators to get their work online and make it easily findable and watchable and, more important than our site, on their site too,” Mr. Hudack said. Blip.tv also pairs ads with content.
The money guys: A handful of founders “bootstrapped” the company last spring with their own money until blip.tv snared a round of funding from private investors in July, Mr. Hudack said. The company did not disclose the amount. “We have been very carefully growing the business and hiring as we make money,” Mr. Hudack said. He said the company became cash flow-positive this month.
The backstory: The founders started blip.tv in May 2005 after joining a Yahoo blogging group. As part of that group, they learned of the frustrations online video creators faced and recognized a business opportunity to help them. “They were using a hodgepodge of services, and the process of uploading a video could take about an hour and sometimes it wouldn’t upload. That’s when the founding crew realized there was a need for a better mousetrap,” Mr. Hudack said.
In the mix: Blip.tv’s competitors include Revver, Veoh, Eefoof.com and Lulu.tv, as well as big video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Google Video.
Pros: Blip.tv is operating in the online video sweet spot. In the first half of 2006, investors poured about $156 million into video startups, up from $108 million in the first half of 2005, according to Dow Jones VentureOne, a venture capital research firm.
Cons: One of the challenges with user-generated content is helping marketers feel comfortable placing ads in it, Mr. Hudack said. A good way to start is with safer, more professionally produced online content. In that vein, blip.tv recently acquired niche online video shows Treehuggertv.com, Neo-fight.tv and Galacticast.com that serve semi-professional videos that provide a consistent audience for advertisers.
What keeps you up at night? “I am always worried about the ad market in general and I want to make sure in general that it’s healthy,” Mr. Hudack said.
How does advertising evolve in five years? “You will see a lot of interactivity introduced. Being able to track the buy and the impressions and whether people are buying it … We are working on some products that match products to ads, where ads are targeted against metadata associated with the video.”
Mr. Hudack was born in Greenwich, Conn., and grew up in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. He left high school before graduating when he was hired as a chief technical scientist at an Internet security company. He previously managed Parenting.com for AOL and also worked for the National Hockey League as a senior programmer and systems administrator. He said he goes rowing once a week in Central Park.