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Conviva pioneered and continues to define the standards for cross-screen, end-to-end streaming media intelligence. Built for video, the Conviva platform and products enable you to understand and act on experience, advertising, social and content insights, for every stream across every screen, every second. More than 250 industry leaders – including CBS, Cirque du Soleil, CNN, DAZN, HBO, Hulu, Red Bull, RTL, Sky, Sling TV, TED, Turner, and Univision – rely on Conviva to drive business and time-critical decisions at every level of their organization, reducing customer churn, increasing viewer engagement, driving new monetization models, and growing ROI.
Conviva began in 2006 when a team of researchers and technology pioneers saw the need for publishers to fully understand and optimize how their viewers experienced video streaming over the internet. But the true origins go back much further than that.
In 1989, streaming video was projected to become the future of the internet, but technology limitations stood in the way. Mainstream academia and industry focused their energies on changing the network to support video. The prescient minds that would eventually lead Conviva took a more controversial path, and it made all the difference.
Hui Zhang believed that the best ideas were often overlooked ideas. He chose not to follow the crowd, instead approaching the problem with a clean-slate approach, dedicating himself to finding application-level solutions to the streaming video challenge. He did his Ph.D dissertation research at UC Berkeley on designing advanced protocols and algorithms for video streaming. He then joined the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University, which is where he joined forces with three others inspired to tackle the streaming video challenge: Ph.D student Ion Stoica, graduate student Aditya Ganjam, and research scientist Jibin Zhan, who he knew from their college days. The four of them would go on to found Conviva.
Conviva’s creation and DNA building blocks can be traced back to two highly innovative and impactful projects started by Hui at CMU: End System Multicast (ESM), the first real evidence that high quality, cost-effective streaming video for all was possible; and 4D, which led to the creation of the Software Defined Network paradigm and industry. Both would go on win the prestigious Test of Time award, given for major innovations that still have significant impact 10 years after research publication.
In the process of developing award-winning academic research, breakthrough applications and standard-setting systems, the founders were frequently asked to explain what factors impacted viewer engagement, satisfaction and video consumption. In 2006, realizing that there was no existing way for publishers to get those answers and use them to optimize the experience for their viewers, they decided to tackle what they believed was a critical missing piece: real-time data and intelligence about the experience and engagement of every viewer that could be used to optimize all aspects of streaming video delivery.
They started with three core tenants: every streaming session matters, each person’s viewing experience is different and real-time actionable insights are essential. There were a few false starts along the way, including an initial focus on developing actuators capable of programmatic change. This turned out to be too limiting and ultimately gave way to a new approach focused on building a pipeline for collection, understanding and recommendations that could be used by humans and machines across the ecosystem. This led to the creation of a sensor that could be embedded in video players on all sorts of connected devices, the closest point to the viewer and best place for measurement. To handle all of that information, they built a powerful AI-driven platform capable of real-time big data analytics, intelligence and benchmarking for every stream across every screen, every second. And through this sensor and platform, they created a streaming video data-set that would become the most comprehensive and granular in the world.
The name Conviva is a reflection of that vision, but it wasn’t the first name given to the company. The night before their first VC pitch, the founders realized they had to call the company something. The team held a quick brainstorming session and the name “Rinera” popped into mind. It was the name they were known by when original investors NEA and Foundation Capital signed on. Both of which, still active investors today, helped with important decisions at critical early stages of the company’s development and were unwavering in their support as the company built in anticipation of market readiness. Early customers included Italian internet publisher Kataweb, Yahoo, IndyRacing, NBC, AEG, ABC, and a now-failed reality show called If I can Dream. Two years later, as the company’s purpose came into focus, Hui and the others knew they needed to rebrand, this time with more deliberation and less haste. Derived from Latin roots, Conviva combines the concepts of thoroughness, shared experiences, vital and live (real-time).
In the beginning, Conviva’s founders sparked a revolution that defined measurement, analytics, and user experience in streaming entertainment. Today, the company continues to push the industry forward and provide the insights and context customers need to maximize consumer engagement, provide the quality experiences viewers expect and deserve and drive revenue growth, all in real time.