Cool Startup: Wowza Media Systems

Wowza Media Sytems, based in Evergreen Colorado, was started in 2005 by David Stubenvoll and Charlie Good. In the beginning, Wowza started off as a video blog, but then the two co-founders saw an opportunity to develop a product for the streaming market. The rest is history. Today, Wowza is the leader in its category, overshadowing Adobe FMS. Fortunately, the founders only sold a piece of the business to Summit Partners, thus keeping the majority share in the company. Wowza introduced its product at the right time; before Wowza, there was only Adobe FMS. CDNs didn’t really have options for streaming servers.

Feature Set

At first, when Wowza first came out, it lacked many features. The most important feature missing was a dashboard, our GUI that enable users to setup and configure the server with a mouse. The only way to do it was command line. Command line is the language of the geeks, but not having a GUI or dashboard goes against everything that is cloud. Many years later and thousands of customers after, Wowza now offers a GUI where customers can setup and configure the server. In addition, Wowza has rolled out a ton of features like load balancing, caching, transcoding, DVR, and support for DRM.

From a value proposition standpoint, Wowza will ingest one high quality file, then transcode it, and stream it in multiple renditions to multiple devices, thus saving money and time for their customers. Wowza supports live and VOD delivery. For the more daring customers, they can rent a Wowza server on Amazon. However, I never recommend a company rent a Wowza server from Amazon to stream live events. Live is a difficult beast that works best on a pure-play CDN network. For VOD delivery, Amazon works okay.

Conclusion

Wowza has executed right on the money. It has done a tremendous job in creating a cool product and market for it. I give Wowza an A grade for every facet of their business, including branding, feature set, ease of use, affordability, great service, and so on. The market agrees with me, since thousands of companies worldwide use Wowza Media Server, including CDNs and big telecoms like Telefonica. One thing is for sure, Nginx should learn from the Wowza business model, and develop a strategy similar to Wowza.