FierceOnlineVideo Leaders - Mike Gordon, Chief Strategy Officer, Limelight Networks
FierceOnlineVideo caught up with Limelight Networks Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder Mike Gordon to talk about the company's progress in 2009, recent product announcements, and what trends he is seeing in the online video industry.
FierceOV: How has 2009 shaped up for Limelight so far, Mike? (Limelight is publicly traded, so Gordon asked to avoid specific details related to financial information as the company is currently in a quiet period)
Gordon: We're seeing continued strength in the CDN business in general, and customer demand has stayed strong. While the overall global economy is certainly a little down, there is still growth in this market, with increased bitrates and the number of minutes of video streamed and downloaded continuing to increase each month.
But we have seen the effects of the downturn already in the space, with CDNetwork's acquisition of Panther. The low price reported on that deal is indicative of the financing climate right now. I think we'll see continued consolidation as a result.
FierceOV: Limelight recently announced a new product offering, LimelightSITE, for full site delivery. How has that been received by the market, and how does it compare to the full-site delivery options offered by your competitors?
Gordon: LimelightSITE is already very well established and is providing great user experiences and platform support. We have more than 100 customers already using it, and the feedback has been very good. I won't say anything about other companies' specific offerings, but I think we're well-positioned right now with LimelightSITE. It's not going to be the best choice for everyone, we've never said that. But we think its core proposition is strong and that we'll continue to have success with the offering.
FierceOV: What is your take on the general state of the online video industry right now? Are there certain trends you see as particularly important or interesting?
Gordon: I think online video business models are in the evolution process. Some companies will fail that everyone thought would be great in 2006 and 2007, just as some companies that didn't get much buzz or were predicted to have limited success will come out in a strong position.
For instance, in his keynote at The Cable Show, [Disney CEO] Bob Iger responded to the TV Anywhere concept. In it, he said that online video may not be as harmful as originally thought to broadcast, it may be symbiotic in fact, leading to deeper integration. He mentioned seeing broadcast content being enriched by online offerings, rather than the two merely competing. That's a big "about face" from what people were saying a couple of years ago about online video, coming from the head of one of the largest content companies in the world.
FierceOV: What sort of models do you think will evolve into winning ones in online video?
Gordon: First, I think it's really important not to mistake a "loser" in the short-term as the final vote of the market. I think success comes partly due to timing, and sometimes the formula needs to be tweaked. Take Friendster for example. It began to struggle, and people began to doubt the value of social media. You walk away then, and you miss MySpace, and more importantly, you miss Facebook.
Also, in the actual ground truth economics, no one should underestimate the media industry's ability to get online video right eventually. I think right now, you're seeing two sorts of companies. One set are companies with people coming with existing media company experience, and existing media companies are entering, usually with at least one media content or production asset, and strong storytelling skills. The second is companies staffed by people with tech backgrounds or general business backgrounds, but no media experience.
I think its tempting to say one or the other group has no chance, but I think it will get sorted out in interesting ways, with a mix of strategies winning out eventually.