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Founder of the Week: How to Snatch Awards from Netflix, Disney and Co

Netflix, YouTube, Disney, Facebook - and Bitmovin. The Carinthian scale-up by Christopher Müller and Stefan Lederer, which specializes in video streaming, was recognized a few days ago as one of the winners at the “Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards”. Our founders of the week reveal how it came about.

Bitmovin: rapid rise since 2013

As early as 2015, the two co-founders dared to move to the USA, more precisely to the tech mecca of Silicon Valley. Things continued at breakneck speed: in 2016 Bitmovin collected 10.3 million US dollars, and in 2017 they cooperated with Firefox maker Modzilla. In 2018 everything got even bigger, the Carinthian company received a whopping 30 million euros from various investors. Then as now, that was one of the largest financing rounds that a startup founded in Austria has ever completed. A year later, the European Investment Bank then injected a further 20 million euros.

When it was founded in 2013, the success was not yet foreseeable. Christopher Müller remembers: “The whole thing developed out of university. Stefan and I did research at the University of Klagenfurt and put our source code and other work on our blog. The idea behind it was actually that other people can easily reproduce our results because it is often very difficult who is and and that bothered. But after half a year we saw that 140,000 visitors were on the site - and were therefore sure that this was relevant. In principle, that was the starting signal for the company, we thought we had to get it across to the market. "

Award at the Tech-Emmys

In the meantime, Bitmovin has blossomed into a globally recognized player in the video streaming market. This was proven not least by the award in the “Development of Massive Processing Optimized Compression Technologies” category at the annual Tech-Emmys. You could assert yourself against prominent companies, among others Amazon, Disney, Google or YouTube, Netflix or Facebook were candidates for the award. Was it possible to count on it? Müller: “Unfortunately we can't be there, that's a shame. It was all very surprising to us. We knew we were in the selection, but we didn't expect to win. I used to work at Dolby Research, they have an Emmy like this in the lobby. You can see how much it means. It's really cool that we won it. "

"Like video game with different levels"

Bitmovin currently has around 150 employees. “They are distributed in Europe and around the world, our sales and marketing department is for example in San Francisco, London or Singapore. We have an enterprise sales approach, so we have to be close to the customer, ”explains Müller. It has taken a lot of work to date, and there were sometimes stony sections. Müller: “You always have to struggle with challenges. An investor once said it's like a video game with different levels - and at each level you need new skills. There have been many challenges over the years that have changed again and again. "

Optimizing in a crisis

One of the most recent challenges was certainly the corona pandemic, which is still with us. What impact did the crisis have on Bitmovin? “There has definitely been an explosion in video streaming. But there have also been many companies that have struggled. Other industries may be a step further in terms of innovation. We have also seen this with customers, but we have often been able to help. What we've also seen is that things that normally take years have been done in weeks - simply because of the pressure. Companies have had to become more efficient. When everyone is streaming from home, bandwidths are just not enough. But that's also because many systems are not optimized. Through pure optimization, we manage to reach more users. Many companies pushed this forward during the crisis. "

Internally everything also worked “very well”: “We know working around the globe and have switched to complete 'work from home'. It works very efficiently, we don't notice any losses. Everyone worked and helped with the changeover. But over time you notice that people want to meet again. "

Positive look into the future

Christopher Müller and Stefan Lederer are correspondingly positive about the future. “The Outlook is very good. If we look back on the crisis years in general, it becomes apparent that companies that got through the recession well often exploded afterwards. We talked to other reasons that have also built large companies. They also said that you should use the time and optimize the company and processes, use the time perfectly. The recovery is underway and the outlook is very positive. All on track with us ”.

Bitmovin: Carinthian video streaming specialist awarded at Tech-Emmys