Founded in 2013, Grabyo is a cloud-based service used to distribute videos across a variety of social media platforms and websites. After securing US$2 million investment from sport stars Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Tony Parker, Grabyo chief executive Gareth Capon spoke to SportsPro about how the company works, its partnership with these sporting icons and the company’s future aspirations.
What does Grabyo do and how does it all work?
Grabyo is a real-time video business. We help broadcasters and right holders distribute their predominantly live video content across social media platforms, Twitter and Facebook particularly, but also other digital video platforms such as YouTube, content management systems or OVP platforms like Ooyala and mobile apps. So what the platform does is we take any broadcast satellite or IP video feed, we put it into a cloud-based editing tool so you can access Grabyo studio via a web browser and a Wi-Fi connection and then you can edit clips from that live feed in real time and then distribute it over those multiple social networks. In essence we can take a Champions League game, you can edit a 20-second highlight of a goal in real time and then send that clip instantaneously to Twitter, Facebook etc. We can get that content out of those platforms from live in just a few seconds. Once those clips are shared we can wrap media assets around it, so sponsorship and advertising assets from advertising and brand partners which obviously then generates a new commercial revenue stream for the partners as well as driving significant levels of engagement as these clips get shared virally across the social networks.
Is 20 seconds the limit of a video?
No, you can share any length of clip from Grabyo, anything from a short 10, 15, 20 second clip right up to a different partner like QVC, who use our platform to take hour-long shows directly from live broadcast and then put in on their website for people to view as an on-demand piece of content. It’s a very flexible editing platform. Most of the focus is for clips that are under 90 seconds because they’re shared on social platforms and most of the engagement is around short-term video content. From a platform perspective, we can edit much longer clips.
How difficult has it been to attract funding?
We've found attracting funding so far has been relatively straightforward, as much as it can be for any start-up. There’s a lot of interest in this space. We sit right in the mix of the mobile, video and social advertising ecosystem; they’re three very strong growth markets and there is a huge amount of interest in this space. Twitter and Facebook only launched their video proposition in the last 12 to 18 months so the entire space has been grown very quickly and we’re sitting in a fairly unique place at the moment in terms of a real-time cross platform video proposition.
"We see that talent is a very important part of the future ecosystem for social content distribution and video distribution in general."
Does the US$2 million deal agreed represent a significant investment or has partnering with these sports stars been more of a publicity stunt?
We are obviously not disclosing the exact split of the investment. We can say publicly that the majority of the money has come from the sports player. They’re very interested in the company and are committing funds to the business. We’ve not just done this for the PR, we want to bring on capital and equity for the business which is important to us as a fast-growing start-up. There is also, as we said, some strategic value with being associated with some top talent in sport. We see that as a really beneficial opportunity for the business and for the players we brought on as investors and ambassadors in the last few weeks. We will definitely look to build our commercial relationships with other talent, definitely in the sport space and maybe in other spaces too such as music in the coming months. Watch this space for more news from that perspective.
Grabyo chief executive Gareth Capon pictured with French soccer star Thierry Henry
What are these players going to be doing for Grabyo?
All these things are to be worked out. We’re not talking publicly about anyone’s role in the company now but you can see from their public announcements that they are very much behind the business and engaged in what we’re doing. They’re providing great feedback on the platform and the company and of course they give us a great profile in sport which is a key market for us in terms of the partners we want to target as customers, so they bring a lot of value to the business.
What are the company’s goals both in the near future and perhaps further down the line?
In the near-term, with this funding we are looking to build our team from an engineering and a commercial perspective to grow our capability and customer base across Europe and in America in particular. North America is a big focus for us going into 2015; we will be looking to build on new rights holder broadcaster customers in that period. From a longer-term perspective there are a few things. One would be the continued extension of that model. We’re looking to bring on additional rights holder and broadcaster partners from all around the world but also we have taken on investment from talent and we have done that for a reason. We see that talent is a very important part of the future ecosystem for social content distribution and video distribution in general. If you look at players on social media they have a very significant following - often tens of millions of fans - and in that way they can help take pieces of video content and distribute it to millions more people than maybe reached by a rights holder or broadcaster on their own. We think the combination of premier content, combined with the opportunity to help talent distribute that content, creates a really interesting model for content distribution and monetisation in the future.
"Any major sport with a big consumer audience is of interest to us."
How did your partnerships with BskyB, ITV and Channel 4, among others, come about? Are there any other similar deals in the pipeline?
We've got a number of big deals in the pipeline which you will hear about as they emerge in the coming weeks and months. The reality is that this space has been very interesting to a lot of people for a long time. It's been driven in North America; obviously the major sports federations and broadcasters in the US in particular were the first to move in to the social video space and we’ve seen Europe following on behind that and there has been an increasing demand. The UK is definitely one of the bellwethers from a European markets perspective and tends to move a little bit earlier than some of the other European markets but also partly because of the bigger social audience here. There is a very strong user demographic on Facebook and Twitter in particular. I think what we've seen is that the market is all being led from the US and the North American perspective and then Europe is following closely behind. We've been enjoying the accelerating interest and demand for our platform and our services through that period.
Grabyo has already brokered deals with the Fifa World Cup, Wimbledon and the Ryder Cup. Are there any other sporting events that you hope to be aligned with?
Any major sport with a big consumer audience is of interest to us. We are also talking to some of the smaller federations and most of the leading football clubs around Europe about our services. I think that there’s a real opportunity not just in broadcasting live games which is clearly of interest to us and the fans but also lots of the ancillary content that exists around the games. If you have a look at clips.wimbledon.com that’s actually a video platform that is run entirely by Grabyo for the tournament, using our own video infrastructure and player as well as distributing those clips across Twitter and Facebook. You’ll see from a content perspective it’s not just the games that people want to see. Social video creates an opportunity to distribute different types of content to exploit different rights in different ways and certainly engage fans with some piece of content that may not have as much relevance to an on-demand or broadcast perspective. The key thing is you must be sharing these things in real-time. Some pieces of content only have value for a very short window of time, 50 per cent of our clips get consumed within 20 minutes of them being shared. It’s truly a real-time platform and so what is important for our partners is to be able to get that content out to the fans when the conversation is happening and enjoy that spike of conversation activity.