84 STREAMING MEDIA INDUSTRY SOURCEBOOK 2018
measurement, though, is whether a technology’s business entity survives, thrives, or dies.
After all, if the technology is good, the business entity shouldn’t be an impediment to the technology’s
In this year’s Sourcebook, you’ll find two other “ 20
for 20” lists: technologies and standards. But first let’s
look back at some of key mergers and acquisition
(M&A) events over the past 20 years.
We asked readers to give feedback on key M&A
activity over the last 2 decades, and three consistently rose to the top of readers’ lists: Google’s acquisition of two companies—On2 and You Tube— as well
as Broadcast.com’s acquisition by Yahoo. Below is a
synopsis of each of these three, followed by several
honorable mentions to round out our list.
1. Putting the “You” in Online Dating Videos
Why does it seem that every technology in the broader video industry, but especially in streaming, begins
with a business focus on either sex or religion? It turns
out one of the major acquisitions in the last 2 decades
actually started as a failed dating site.
I’d often wondered why You Tube was so narcissis-tically named, but the way one of the three founders
tells it, the company intentionally registered its domain
on Feb. 14, 2005, for a reason.
“Just three guys on Valentine’s Day that had nothing to do,” YouTube co-founder Steve Chen told an
audience at SXSW in 2016. Subsequent claims say the
site Hot or Not was an influence on the You Tube business model, just like it was for the earliest iteration
“We always thought there was something with vid-
eo there,” said Chen, “but what would be the actual
practical application? We thought dating would be the
According to the CNET article that quotes Chen, he
and the other co-founders—Chad Hurley and Jawed
Karim, all of whom had worked together at PayPal
before it was acquired by eBay—reconsidered the
dating-only approach, opening You Tube up to be more
than just introductory “you” videos.
They subsequently uploaded the first video April 23,
2005, a 19-second video of co-founder Karim titled “Me
at the Zoo” that had been recorded by Yakov Lapitsky,
a high school friend. Within 569 days, the company was
acquired by Google for the equivalent of $1.65 billion in
Google stock. To put it in perspective, that means every
day between April 23, 2005, and the acquisition’s completion date of Nov. 13, 2006, was worth $2,899,824.25
for the investors and shareholders of You Tube.
Karim went on to found Youniversity Ventures (now
known as Y Ventures) with investments in Airbnb,
Eventbrite, Reddit, Palantir, and Skybox. Hurley stayed
on in an active CEO role with You Tube until 2010. He
and Chen went on to found a company called AVOS
Systems in 2011, focusing on an audio and video op-
erating system for mobile devices, with the name
changing to MixBit in 2013.
“It’s a very different time from when we started
You Tube, before the iPhone and the cloud were so in
play,” said Chen in an interview with Jordan Crook
of TechCrunch in 2014, announcing he was leaving
AVOS-MixBit to join Google Ventures.
2. Nothing but AudioNet
There are numerous debates in the streaming in-
dustry as to who had the “first” stream, and various
entrepreneurs, engineers, and even a few inventors
lay claim to the title of “first streamer.”
One bit that makes it all the more difficult to accu-
rately plumb the depths of the streaming industry is
that the names of many of the early companies have
changed over the years. And by that I don’t just mean
the companies have been acquired or merged with
companies that themselves were acquired or merged
with other companies.
At the top of the article, I mentioned Progressive
Networks, the company founded by Rob Glaser that
was later renamed RealNetworks, and then just Real.
Or there was the company Encoding.com founded by
Martin Tobias, with whom I had one of the first (and still
one of the most bizarre) interviews in my career. Encoding.com was later renamed Loudeye, but the original name was too good to lay dormant, so it was picked
up by another entrepreneur for a second run at glory.
One that we don’t hear much about, though, is the
company formerly known as AudioNet, itself the result of the restructuring of an initial company from
1989 called Cameron Audio Networks, named after
Cameron Christopher Jaeb.
Jaeb had an initial idea about how to allow listeners
to keep track of out-of-town games, at first by purchasing shortwave radios and then by using a device that
received satellite signals. He met an attorney, Todd
Wagner, who then introduced him to Mark Cuban,
who had already sold a technology company and was
looking for additional investment opportunities.
Legend has it—and industry vets have all heard a
variation on this—that Cuban wanted to listen to games
from his alma mater, Purdue, while living in Dallas. Cuban invested $10,000 in Cameron Audio Systems, which
was renamed AudioNet in September 1995. Yes, that
predates the streaming era by about 2 years.
On Oct. 10, 1997, these same three guys registered a
domain name— broadcast.com—that was one part verb,
one part noun, and many parts legend in the making.
Within a few months, not only had the name been
changed from AudioNet to Broadcast.com to take advantage of the crazy internet investment bubble, but
it had gone through an initial public offering (IPO)