Magnify Elbows Into Internet Video Crowd
Situation: Magnify.net is a technology company that adds video to existing Web sites, effectively turning them into video channels.
Jumping into a hyper-competitive video-serving industry that includes competitors such as Brightcove and Maven Networks, the company launched in 2005 and went live with its service in January 2007. Founder and CEO Steve Rosenbaum invested his own money in the company and also raised an angel round of funding, of about $1.2 million, to launch the service. The company expects to close a venture round in the fall.
Magnify now powers online video for more than 19,500 Web sites including Weather.com, RCuniverse.com and Bicycling.com, delivering clips relevant to those business' main themes. The RCuniverse.com site, for instance, is devoted to radio-controlled cars and planes and uses Magnify's technology to search the Web for videos on that topic to embed into the site.
That's a key differentiating feature for Magnify, which specializes in video discovery, searching the Web for copyright-cleared content that it can deliver to its customers' sites.
"In about 10 minutes you have a video channel with hundreds of videos organized around your set of interests and it doesn't cost you anything to build," Mr. Rosenbaum said.
Industry: Web video services
Video play: Providing technology to help users put video on their Web sites.
Strategy: Magnify's service searches the Web for video relevant to users' interests and places it on their sites.
Result: Magnify now powers the video more than 19,500 Web sites.
Magnify shares advertising revenue 50-50 with its Web site partners. That includes both text ads and video ads tailored to the content. In addition to culling existing Web video, Magnify provides a play list, enables sharing and organizes the videos on its customers' sites.
"You can pick and choose the video or we can go out and find videos in the public domain and bring those in." Mr. Rosenbaum said.
The videos are embedded on customers' Web sites and link back to the originating site, such as Revver, Daily Motion, Metacafe or YouTube.
"Any of the videos on [our clients' sites] you can find elsewhere on the Web," he said. Across its customer base, Magnify has seen page views rise from two million in April to seven million in July.
The company counts seven employees. Magnify's proprietary technology lets it use a business model that's different than many of its competitors, who charge license fees for use of their software.
Mr. Rosenbaum declined to disclose Magnify's revenues or when he expects the company to become profitable.
The Problem: Magnify's business model requires it to apply its technology to many different users' needs. It counts among its clients a surfing enthusiast who started YouSurfTubes.com, where fellow surfers can post their videos.
More complicated projects include the work Magnify did in early July for Veterans of Foreign Wars at http://video.vfwwebcom.org/ to build a series of Web sites. The organization wanted to build a national channel, plus Web sites tailored for each of its local groups. The project calls for 1,000 sites total: One national and the rest local.
"They wanted video from the head office in Washington, so whenever Washington wants to say something to all the veterans, it can go across the sites and the local sites. It's like a national edition and many local editions, so that's a little more demanding than the average channel," Mr. Rosenbaum explained.
Competition is fierce among Web video providers, but Mr. Rosenbaum believes the company distinguishes itself with its focus on discovery of content that others have posted elsewhere.
The Solution: The VFW project prompted Magnify to retool its software to syndicate content from the VWF's main site to about 1,000 smaller sites. The technology development took a little more than two weeks. The cost to tweak the technology is insignificant, Mr. Rosenbaum said, because the Magnify platform can be configured for various needs. VFW had launched 285 of the sites by the end of July.
"The balance is creating an open platform in which people can contribute and something that is safe for the brand, so there is a review process that Magnify built in," he said. "Having a national feed and a local feed was added for this project. No one had asked us to do that before. We needed to have a syndicated playlist and be able to define the list of channels it's syndicated to."
Evaluation: The Veterans of Foreign Wars project provided Magnify with the opportunity to create a template for a mixed national-local Web site and playlist.
"Now we can offer that to others," Mr. Rosenbaum said. "We have an opportunity to really affect people's lives and to create communities that are meaningful. People who come back from Iraq injured will have a way to get information from the VFW and to share information."