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100ms Bets On Video To Be The Internet Star


The Covid-19 pandemic encouraged people the world over to embrace video conferencing, both for work and in their personal lives. And while the crisis is easing in some parts of the world, the demand for live video online is not dissipating – Zoom, for example, has seen usage continue to increase throughout 2021.

It is a phenomenon that the live video infrastructure platform 100ms thinks it is well-placed to exploit. The company, whose founders include former executives from Facebook and Disney, is today announcing a $4.5m seed funding round co-led by the venture capital firm Accel. It is a deal that chief executive Kshitij Gupta sees as potentially transformative, both for his business and for customers. “We see video becoming a crucial part of the fabric across many businesses,” he says. “Our job is to democratise access to video.”

100ms offers a suite of software development kits that allow developers to incorporate audio and video capabilities into their apps and websites. That is crucial, explains Gupta, because until now, very few organisations have been able to offer their own live video. “It is really quite difficult to do from a technical perspective,” Gupta explains. “Video is very challenging for developers.”

This is problematic for both businesses and their customers. Currently, businesses that want to interact through customers using video cannot do so with their own apps or websites; instead, they must rely on third-party conferencing services where they lack control of functionality and risk losing the direct relationship with customers. As for customers themselves, they are frustrated by having to log out of apps and open video conferencing software – or simply by a complete lack of video functionality.

100ms’s solution is a simple kit that any organisation can download and embed within their apps and websites. That instantly enables the organisation to offer live video facilities of their own, with customers able to join seamlessly. The video is white-labelled as the app provider’s own service.

“The pandemic has fast-forwarded users’ comfort with live audio and video experiences,” Gupta adds. “However, it has been difficult for developers to add such experiences – 100ms is expanding access to white-labelled gold-standard live experiences for millions of developers.”

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The company believes its tool will have applications across a broad range of industries. Obvious examples, where video already plays an increasingly important role, include virtual events and conferences, the education sector and tele-health. But other sectors are also increasingly embracing video – gaming is expected to be an important marketplace for the company, along with fitness.

Ecommerce could also prove crucial, enabling retailer selling online to demonstrate products and answer questions from potential customers in real time. Already, 18% of Chinese ecommerce involves some form of video interaction, Gupta points out.

100ms believes its founders’ experience in the video sector give the company a head start as it rolls out its services. Gupta is a veteran of Facebook Live, for example, while Sarvesh Dwivedi, another co-founder, previously worked for Disney. The third founding member of the team, Aniket Behera, also has extensive experience of   product management, engineering and video infrastructure.

This track record was one of the attributes that attracted investors to the company, says Abhinav Chaturvedi, an Accel partner. “We believe all apps in the future will have video and audio embedded in them,” he says. “100ms is the best team to create the best-in-class developer product to enable this.”

At STRIVE.vc, the other leader in the funding round, partner Nikhil Kapur adds: “An open extendable platform, built by experts in audio and video streaming, and supported by a budding engaged community, instantly convinced us that the 100ms team is building a global-leading dev infra company.”

The funding has enabled 100ms to substantially expand its team of developers, with more than 30 members of staff now working on the product. The company formally launched its service at the end of August and already has close to 20 customers signed up. Earlier adopters include the Indian ticket booking service BookMyShow and the social streaming service Flyx.

100ms’s business model is built on a pay-as-you-go proposition, with clients paying according to how many of their customers use the video powered by the company and for how long. This pricing structure should appeal to companies of all sizes and the service is geography agnostic, with 100ms having already taken on customers in Europe, Asia and North America.

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This is just the beginning, promises Gupta. “We’re starting out with video conferencing, but over time we’ll be able to do much more,” he says. Organisations will increasingly incorporate video into their processes, he believes, citing authentication tools in banking as one example. “Video is a complex problem, but it is also going to be essential to businesses, so with our tool, developers no longer need to be afraid of it.”

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