Dis fund invests in EdgeCast

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Steamboat Ventures, an investment firm of Disney, is set to announce today that it has acquired an interest in EdgeCast, an Internet delivery network that competes with industry leader Akamai Technologies.

EdgeCast has 50 customers, about half of which are media companies. One of its largest clients is Imax, which used EdgeCast for serving up online video marketing for such movies as "Beowulf," "Spider-Man 3," "Transformers" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."

EdgeCast previously raised $4 million from such entertainment industry executives as Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer and CinemaNow chairman Mark Amin.

Steamboat has invested $6 million in EdgeCast, claiming that its technology is cheaper than that offered by Akamai, a $6.5 billion company, as well as others in the content distribution networks business, including Limelight Networks and Internap.

EdgeCast uses only 13 locations globally to serve up content quickly to end users while more established companies like Akamai have thousands of locations worldwide though stocked with less powerful servers.

"We have the benefit of being new to the CDN game, so we can learn from their mistakes," EdgeCast president James Segil said.

Disney has been evaluating the EdgeCast service and, like most conglomerates, uses various companies to ensure that its massive amounts of online video are served to consumers efficiently.

Other investments made by 7-year-old Steamboat — which is funded by Disney, though run independently — include Fastclick, which was acquired by online ad company VoiceClick; Display Corp., which was acquired by Qualcomm; Pure Digital Technologies; Quigo Technologies; and Move Networks.
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