Ooyala's online video 'cradle'

I got a chance this week to catch up with Ooyala, a video syndication platform for publishers and advertisers based in Mountain View, Calif. Ooyala, which means "cradle" in the southern Indian dialect of Tegulu, aims to cradle innovation in online video technology, and after receiving a walk-through of its end-to-end platform "Backlot," I think the name is fitting.

Ooyala's founders, Sean Knapp, Belsasar Lepe and Bismarck Lepe, started the company in 2007 after leaving Google, where they worked on AdSense and other monetization platforms. They've channeled that experience to create a holistic approach to monitoring and monetizing video assets for their clients, which the company claims now number more than 5,000.

Backlot contains ad management tools, metrics capabilities and a unique file storage system that optimizes end-user experience with multiple file size delivery, dependant on the end-user's Internet connection speed. The platform's "Darkroom" has an editing suite that allows publishers to select the ad units they want to serve over their content with an easy drag-and-drop interface that they then can view in real time to assure correct placement. Backlot also is equipped with an interface for publishers to manage revenue shares and contracts with partner content owners.

Ooyala CEO Bismarck Lepe said the multiple management tools within Backlot are also available on an "a la carte" basis, providing clients greater flexibility for their video management needs.

The company offers individual publishers a credit card payment option that allows in-browser management functionality in about 15 minutes, according to Lepe. A desktop client with increased power and functionality is available for Ooyala's larger clients.

Ooyala has already made major strides to build out its ad server, signing partner deals with YuMe, Tremor Media and Brightroll, according to Lepe. Another impressive sign for Ooyala's future outlook is its global client profile. Its first large client was The Times Group of India, and Ooyala's domestic sales only recently surpassed its international revenue, according to Lepe.

Ooyala has raised more than $10 million in capital so far and currently employs 52 people. Lepe said the company could be profitable right now, but instead has chosen to reinvest in developing its technology and building out its global sales and support. Lepe noted that Ooyala's mix of services doesn't have a clear challenger in the space, but that its closest competitor would probably be Brightcove. He also was quick to add that the company has several "fre-emies" in online video companies that it partners with as often as it competes against.

Given the ease of use of its platform, and the range of services available within it, I expect more revenue growth and client announcements for this cradle for online video innovation in 2009. 

- Pete