Akamai, Limelight and Signiant


Akamai is like the Seattle Seahawks on Super Bowl day, and Limelight (LLNW), well, is like the other team. Akamai dominates every facet of the CDN game, especially in the metrics, such as revenue, customer count, product depth, number of features, and on and on. Akamai generates about 9x of LLNW’s revenue, and is 55 times more valuable.

It makes you wonder, why doesn’t Akamai just acquire LLNW, and get rid of the only other public pure-play CDN. Is there any hope for LLNW, and is it possible for them to be a leader in at least one category? In fact, there is one area it can win, if LLNW is willing to take a risk and tries something different. Best of all, LLNW will capture an area of the market that does very little business with CDNs. This category is ripe for LLNW.

Limelight’s B2B Private Network

Today, there is one key feature that Limelight has that no other CDN has, and it’s major. LLNW is the only CDN that has its POPs connected to each other with a fiber backbone, making LLNW a B2B CDN with a private network. LLNW is a B2C CDN and B2B CDN, and as far as I know, there is no one like that including Akamai.

Does a private network really matter? No and yes. To the B2C enterprise, that publishes content or provides services directly to the public (Linkedin, WordPress, Twitter, Zappos), a private network has very little value. Delivery performance is king, and running inter-traffic content within the private network of LLNW is likely to do more harm than good, as performance might take a hit.

However, to another audience, security is king, and performance takes a backseat. This audience are the movie studios, post production facilities, labs and broadcasters that need to exchange content between themselves. A secure B2B private network, not going over the public Internet, has a tremendous value to this clientele.

Akamai, Limelight and Signiant

Professionally made video, whether its feature films, episodes, or the like, always has to flow through a partner ecosystem of editors for touch up work, in order to create the final cut or final product. In the majority of cases, these partners are located in different states and countries, especially since the cost of post production is less overseas. One film can have hundreds of iterations, where each file is an uncompressed mezzanine GB’s in size.

Akamai doesn’t play well in this environment. Neither does LLNW, or any other CDN for that matter. Signiant on the other hand, dominates this market segment. They offer a specially crafted UDP transport, bundled with applications, that solves the delivery challenges of this type of customer. Signiant provides LLNW with a critical piece needed to fill a void in their product mix. LLNW+Signiant will have the tools to provide an end-to-end delivery solution to all studios, post production facilities, broadcasters, and labs, enabling them to exchange large mezzanine files over a global private network.

LLNW can now go upstream, and deal directly with the professional filmmaker, and become a part of their workflow. More importantly, LLNW inherits Signiants high profile customer media base, like ESPN, and hundred more like them. Another added benefit, LLNW can now replace Amazon S3, a key partner to Signiant, an integrate LLNW cloud storage into the Signiant platform.

 Wrap up

Acquiring Signiant would be a brilliant move for LLNW. I’m guessing Signiant generates somewhere between $12M to $15M per year. Limelight could snap them up easily. If it does, LLNW would instantly become a major player in the studio/broadcaster file exchange market.

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