The below-the-surface businesses, like Pond5, the video/audio stock footage outfit, interest me because they often see opportunities others don’t seem to notice.
For example, with the proliferation of video comes a bigger need for speed. It is a great time to be in the video clips business because now they’re being used in TV shows and movies, streaming videos and by thousands of YouTube creators. It's a fast moving business; volume demands it.
“We’re out to disrupt a $13 billion industry,” says Ryan Scott, the new CEO, explaining two new aids that will make it easier for clients to find the right video snippet, still photo or sound effect. Places like Pond5, he says, "see where the hockey puck is moving" and go there.
The latest stuff from Pond5, now funded by Accel Partners and Stripes Group, seems kind of high-tech for a company that, on the face of it, should be a faceless humdrum cog in the Internet-business environment.
Yesterday, Pond5 introduced NextSens, described as auto-tagging, image-recognition software that analyzes videos and images to generate the best possible keywords for media content. The accompanying is Visual Discovery, which makes artificial intelligence-aided guesses about what a user is looking for, based on an analysis of 20 keywords.
From that Pond5 can locate a video piece, and that replaces the laborious job of going through zillions of them. And zillions is a stretch, but Pond5 claims to have 4.7 million video clips, and more to come, so finding a way to wade through all of that matters for the end user. Time really is money.
And video clips can be very esoteric. For example: What's the video clip that best visualizes "inspiration"? Hard to say, but Scott says inspiration is a big video clip topic these days.
So the new AI gear matters. “We've built a customer-centric platform,” Scott says “It’s much more sophisticated that’s what’s been out there,” and Scott says, more mindful of how editors and creators really search for clips.
For example, the new Pond5 site lets users scroll through aided video clips that auto-play as a user goes past them, rather than forcing the searcher to click through endless images. Before, Scott said, “time and budget kept creators from investigating the full extent of what was out there.”
With the new AI tools and predictive algorithms, Pond5 is also rolling out discount memberships that give additional incentives for using 4K videos, or audio or stills. Pond5 claims to have 40,000 artist contributors who get generous royalties of 50%; Scott claims that many of them are making six-figure incomes solely from their clips work.
Pond5 started overseas in 2006, not long after (and apparently not coincidentally) after YouTube burst on the scene, founded by video editor Tom Bennett, who until just last month, was the CEO, and partners Dana Tower and Marcus Engene.
They all remain with the company. According to reports, Scott says Bennett is now the executive chairman of the company. Similarly, Video Blocks, an upstart membership video/audio stock house that has come on strong in the last year, also had changes at the top last month.