Marcellus - Top Online Video Company 2009: FierceOnlineVideo, Fierce 15
Where it's based: Union City, Calif.
When it was founded: March 2007
Investors: Small seed investors
Why it's Fierce: Fierce doesn't necessarily mean big, and big doesn't describe Marcellus, a decidedly small, almost intimate OVP that's doing some neat things as it continues to evolve. Marcellus co-founder and CEO Preetam Mukherjee started the business doing on-premise video deployment, a no-go pretty much from the start. But he believes the future of mass adoption of video by enterprise is to make it as self-service as possible; keeping it simple but expanding its feature sets to meet a wide range of customer needs.
"What we still see is that, while businesses recognize video is a very important aspect of their business, they're concerned that the investment is too significant and that the returns just aren't there yet," said Mukherjee. "There are so many niche publishers coming out that still need to deliver their video with high quality or risk losing audeince. So, we decided to look at what we could do that gives publishers the ability to match their needs without spending too much money."
Marcellus dove into the cloud, in the form of using Amazon's S3 infrastructure to provide encoding, storage and bandwidth at a variable price, similar to a cellphone and minutes used model.
The company offers an introductory package that includes unlimited uploads and management, automatic encoding into H.264, a white label player that accepts your overlay and reports on traffic and bandwidth usage. It's pretty basic, but pretty cheap, coming in at $25 a month for the 10GB package.
"For businesses just starting out with video, it makes sense," Mukherjee says.
And it's not a bad business model either. Mukherjee says his eight-person shop expects to be cash-flow positive by the first quarter of 2010. "Marcellus," he says, "is the mass-consumption model by definition. There isn't anything that we do that's rocket science, there's no secret sauce. We're just providing a service to a market that right now is looking for a specific price point, something that's affordable and reliable. "To date, since out roll out, we haven't lost a single customer," Mukherjee says, "Not one. We have zero churn."
Mukherjee knows that while the space may be wide open now, it's not likely to stay that way; there are other start ups out there with their heads in the clouds, too.
"We think about that every day," he says. "What do we do when someone comes out and offers the same service for 12-and-a-half dollars a month? Well, the markets are big enough for another entrance. We just know that we need to move ahead very fast. We hope a year from now we are in a significantly good position in the market that is doesn't make too much sense for another entity to come in."