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Turning a Corner at VBrick

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Turning a Corner at VBrick
    

By: -
7 Feb 2017
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As a streaming industry stalwart closely associated with its namesake encoding appliances, VBrick historically had been known primarily as a purveyor of video hardware.

Finally and definitively, I think we can safely say that image should be dead and buried. Today’s VBrick is a software company, through and through.

At least that’s the conclusion drawn after speaking with VBrick CEO Shelly Heiden about the company’s 2016 results this past week.

When private companies like VBrick schedule such year-end reviews with analysts like me, you can expect that they have some good news they want to brag about.

In this regard, the vendor of enterprise streaming solutions did not disappoint. Consider the following:

  • Booking for software subscriptions more than doubled in 2016 over 2015 levels
  • Billings for its Rev platform nearly doubled, increasing 94% on a year-over-year basis.
  • Cash burn from operations declined by more than 75% on a year-over-year basis.

Such a spate of good news has been a long-time in the making for VBrick. A new management team – including Heiden – arrived at the company in late 2012 and early 2013. Many of the arriving executives were alumni of Plateau Systems – a developer of hosted learning management systems.

Most of the team aspired to apply Plataeu’s SaaS software model to the world of business video. Doing so involved a wrenching transition that included a shift away from VBrick’s encoding roots and a time-consuming project to rebuild VBrick’s streaming platform solution from the ground up.

The fruits of those efforts are the Rev platform – a streaming software creation and content management solution that can be implemented on-premises or on a hosted basis. Rev now has 200 enterprise customers, and 70% of sales in 2016 were to customers using cloud-based implementations.

“We’re not going to talk anymore about being in the middle of the pivot,” Heiden said. “We have made the pivot.”

The software-focused switch even extends to VBrick’s flagship “Distributed Media Engine” solutions. When first introduced, these cache devices that manage the flow of streaming content on corporate networks were implemented primarily as hardware appliances. Now, Heiden says that 95% of Distributed Media Engines sold are deployed by customers as “virtual machines” loaded onto customers’ existing infrastructure.

VBrick’s ascendance has been helped by its alliance with Cisco. In 2015, the networking giant anointed VBrick’s Rev as the streaming and recording solution to be sold by Cisco in conjunction with its collaboration suite of products.

In 2017, The collaboration between Cisco and VBrick appears to be deepening. The technology giant, for instance, is giving VBrick 90-minute presentation slots at its Cisco Live customer conferences in the year ahead. And this week, VBrick will be one of the partners featured in Cisco’s booth at the Integrated Systems Europe show being held in Amsterdam.

While Heiden says that the Cisco relationship still offers VBrick growth opportunities, the company is not hitching its wagon exclusively to Cisco. Heiden hints that VBrick is pursuing comparable selling partnerships with at least two other technology vendors.

Heiden suggests that the ability to deploy the Rev platform on a hosted basis is an appealing attribute fueling the interest of these technology vendors in selling partnerships. She points to the case of a pharmaceutical giant that implemented a $1 million contract for VBrick’s streaming platform 60 days after contacting the company. Typically, it can take nine months to a year to convert large corporate users from prospects into paying customers.

“Cisco is seeing the power of cloud acceleration in the sales cycle,” Heiden says.

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