On the heels of Amazon's $970 million cash deal to acquire Twitch, Ustream may be the next hot acquisition target in the media-tech space. CEO Brad Hunstable, a West Point graduate, co-founded the San Francisco-based company in 2007 with the goal of helping troops overseas connect with their families.
Seven years later, the company has partnerships with major media corporations including CBS News and Viacom, and gadget maker Samsung. But the company has also stayed true to its roots, becoming one of the main champions behind the Oscar Mike Foundation, which helps veterans cope with post traumatic stress disorder.
Hunstable, during a phone interview with The International Business Times, said that smart business maneuvering and promoting openness on the Internet and in the real world are keys to Ustream's growth prospects.
IBTimes: Is Ustream currently profitable?
Brad Hunstable: We are very, very close. Initially our business model was advertising but Ustream is a software services company. We're focused on licensing our technology and software solutions to other businesses, and they're starting to realize the power of video. Livestreaming is bigger and hotter than ever.
IBTimes: Can you think of a notable example of a company using Ustream effectively?
Hunstable: What we've been more focused on over the last couple years is to work like a media company by helping our big customers, like Home Depot, with video solutions. When Sony launched the Playstation 4, 8 million viewers tuned in live. What's really remarkable to us is that starts to look like a primetime TV audience, and average viewing time was 45 minutes. Our vision is to be the best video player across all enterprises.
IBTimes: Copyright and illegal streaming have been issues for streaming companies in the past. How are you able to protect intellectual property rights?
Hunstable: We're able to do that with actual human monitoring, real-time fingerprinting and also with systems and algorithms. Our Viacom and UFC partnerships came out of this stance. We want these people to be our customers and the best way to do that is to protect their assets.
IBTimes: You've said before that you started Ustream to help troops overseas communicate with their families. Does the company still have that vision?
Hunstable: Without a doubt. Ustream is definitely a for-profit business but we can definitely be a force for good. As I started focusing more and more on enterprise I became more involved and inspired to get involved and have a role socially. We donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to citizen journalists on the ground in Ukraine. We want people using video for good. The Internet is a tool for new emerging democracies and societies, it’s important to leverage of our technology as a force for good.