The Fastest Wins

There are two distinct challenges with sending video over the Internet. They are both critical. One is speed of transmission and the other is quality of the video when it arrives on the other end. These two issues have much to do with consumers and businesses presently failing to broadly embrace sharing video on the web.

The compression part of the process can be costly. Television news companies spend hundreds of dollars (even thousands) per user seat on compression tools to reduce video file size as much as possible without harming quality. But the software is not simple. There is often a complicated learning curve with compression software and it doesn’t necessarily send the file after compression. That tends to require another set of tools.

The file is compressed but how does it get transported in a fast and effective manner? This is a problem that has to be confronted by video managers. If there is a broadband pipe or a very strong connection, sending can be relatively easy. But an absence of a strong upload connection can lead to delays and require further file size reduction to expedite the transmission.

There is also the opportunity to skip the compression of the video file on your computer and upload it in standard format and size to the cloud. There are a number of services that will encode the file for you while it is in the cloud so the end user can download faster and deal with a smaller video file. But you still have the challenge of likely waiting hours as the file uploads and then having it set in a cue to wait for encoding.

These are important issues for the Internet that we wanted to resolve at latakoo. We think that once you provide a very simple method for uploading and sending video fast a lot of great things happen for consumers and businesses. We also believe that it should be easy and affordable and that people ought not to be intimidated by complicated software.

We designed the latakoo tool to manage both ends of video transmission and trans-coding. Our signature service was constructed using open source H-264 technology, which was calibrated and tuned by our software developers. The speed of latakoo compression is very quick and files sizes are generally under 5 percent of original without any discernible loss of quality.

Simple is beautiful, especially with software online and sending video. And if you can make sending video fast, the process becomes even more attractive. Take a look at our drag and drop and click that gets your video to where it needs to be.

And speed isn’t much more complicated than that. If you make the file small, and retain quality, the upload bandwidth is less of an issue. We compress and we send with one click. There are some very successful software and hardware companies that are making money doing nothing more than one part of the process: compressing. And the process, we think, is anything but simple. Here is a flow chart and instructions that one TV station sent its crews.

Our strategy was to do all of the work on the client computer, your desktop, so that you weren’t waiting forever for big video files to go up and you weren’t waiting an equally long time for them to come down to your computer. When you download the reduced size file from latakoo, you can also trans-code it into another format/container. As the data is loaded into the latakoo tool on your desktop, it is converted to the format you selected.

By keeping most of the processing – from compression to trans-coding – on your desktop, latakoo has sped up the process of sending video. And by using H-264 compression, we’ve made certain as many people as possible can use our video platform across the entire web with almost any software or hardware configuration.

Don’t have a huge data connection? No expensive software? Or fancy encoder and decoder boxes? Or four pages of instructions? You can still upload and send video fast with latakoo.

And the fastest usually wins.

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Video is the Next Instagram

latakoo website front page taken with Instagram "Kelvin" filter.

It’s just a photo-sharing app. There is probably not anyone who can name all of the photo-sharing services on the Internet. And Instagram still hadn’t made a cent, or was, as entrepreneurs like to say, “pre-revenue.”

Which didn’t stop Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg from purchasing the wildly popular company for $1 billion in stock and cash. Yeah, a photo-sharing app. Well, it may have as many as 50 million users. And only 9 employees, according to TechCrunch. Those users, though, have not yet been monetized.

In all of those photo apps and services, Instagram’s founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger thought there was still an opportunity. Most were too complicated. Too many clicks to share a picture. Locations needed to be punched in. Names and tags were often required. They wanted something very, very simple that fit between Facebook’s functionality and Hipstamatic’s coolness. Which is what they created. A photo-sharing app that has social tools, cool filters, and is as easy as tweeting.

Equals a billion dollars. Apparently.

And now it is video’s turn. If you thought sharing a photo with a friend was complicated, you’ve probably never tried sharing a video. From a smart phone, it’s virtually impossible. And online, it requires hours to upload a few minutes, even when the video has been reduced to smaller size by making it lower resolution.

The Internet wasn’t built with democracy in mind. It was designed for communications. And turned into a profitable architecture for businesses to sell downloadable products and services. Nobody much cared about the upload. That’s a consumer issue. Upload bandwidth is enough to make photo sharing possible but big video files don’t move very well, if at all.

We’ve been working on all of this at latakoo. We are convinced that video can be easily shared and that the market for an Internet platform to move video will be big in the very near future. And, yes, smart phones are a part of that transition. In fact, we’ve already released a latakoo iPhone app (Android to follow shortly) that makes sharing videos from your phone about as simple as those Instagram photos. Nothing more than a few taps compresses the video and then uploads it to get it on the way to your friend(s) or your website.

Our online platform was designed with a one-click utility to share video. The latakoo tool compresses the video very quickly (minutes, sometimes less) after a simple drag and drop. It then uploads automatically to our cloud where your latakoo page gives you tools to send the video onto Facebook or YouTube. And those uploads to social media happen a lot faster because of the smaller file size, which, we should add, retains its quality. No waiting on long uploads or encoding in the cloud; it happens on your computer desktop.

The social media aspect of latakoo is also about to become even simpler and snappier. We are launching a service called “How I Fly,” (HIF) which personalizes your page, and allows you to connect with other latakoo users and share videos. You have “followers” and get “followed” by people of similar interests, family, and friends. Sharing becomes easy when they can visit your page and see the videos they choose. And the even better part of HIF is that if people sign up for latakoo’s upgraded services through your page, you will earn a commission on each referral over the course of a year. (Details coming soon.) We think there is a market value in your connections and if they help us succeed, we want to share that success with our users.

Photos on the web are great. But we think video sharing is even more exciting. And sharing revenue as well as video ought to accelerate the growth of latakoo and moving video over the web.

Words by James Moore

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Go Anywhere with latakoo

Making video simple means giving latakoo users the freedom to move. No matter what you want to do with your video or who you want to share it with, we want to make it easier.

For many of our users, video is used collaboratively. There are people within groups that need to use a certain piece of video for projects with deadlines. Using latakoo makes it simple to upload the video, and even simpler to share within a group. All users need to do is to set up a video network – that’s what we call our collaborative folders. But what if this group already has a Box account? That’s fine too. latakoo enables account holders to upload faster nearly any other service, then a user can push the video from their latakoo account to their Box account. That saves a whole lot of time. Our video above is a love story: Box and latakoo, so much better together when it comes sending video files.

If you’re a social rocker and want to party rock with your video, we’ll let you do that too. latakoo will soon unveil public video portals called “How I Fly.”  (Just as fly as the Styles P song, but not at all the same theme.) Or right now, you can use latakoo for the fast upload and then share via latakoo to other social services, like Facebook or YouTube.

Words by Jade Kurian; Video by Steve Kline

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latakoo Receives National Attention from CBS Radio

CBS News Correspondent August Skamenca discovered latakoo’s make video simple service at South by Southwest and decided he needed to tell the world about us. Mr. Skamenca interviewed latakoo Chief of Strategic Communications, James Moore as well as latakoo founder and President, Jade Kurian.

We sure liked Mr. Skamenca’s decision to mention us in the same breath as Twitter in his first report and alongside former Vice President Al Gore in his second story.  CBS Radio South by Southwest latakoo long story

Our entire team made it to SXSW at some point, including founder and CEO Paul Adrian, CTO Ben Werdmuller, sales analyst Nate Niehuus, sales and support specialist Joe Ellis, financial analyst Yuan Li, technology developers Carlos Laurel and Joe Pelayo, executive assistant Jessica Vasami, and videographer Steve Kline.  We’re exhausted, but thrilled with the CBS Radio report!

latakoo's booth at SXSW. The entire latakoo staff participated in showing off how latakoo makes video simple.

 

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latakoo Sends Large Video Files Fast to Box

Integration powers and simplifies video collaboration for 8 Million Box Customers


March 14, 2012

Contact: James Moore, james@latakoo.com, 512.300.9232; 512.502.5666

(Austin, Texas) – Video management company, latakoo (latakoo.com) has integrated with Box to provide a simplified approach to accessing and managing video files on Box’s popular collaboration platform. latakoo’s video platform enables efficient, simple conveyance and management of large video files.

latakoo employs a one-click utility to shrink and convey large HD and SD video files in minutes instead of hours. Available today, latakoo subscribers can push their videos to Box much faster than sending the video directly to Box.

The latakoo iPhone app also makes it possible to send mobile videos to latakoo and then push to Box or other services. An Android version will soon be available.

“We know latakoo is going to prove popular with Box customers,” said Paul Adrian, CEO of latakoo. “Box is about collaboration. Our fast uploads will make it very easy for Box users to get video into their cloud and makes for more robust video collaboration between individuals and companies.”

latakoo’s online platform is already being used by television news stations, public relations agencies, and numerous large corporate enterprises. latakoo enables users to send video fast, share video in multiple ways, store video with ease, and transcode video files for a variety of editing formats.

About: latakoo.com is an Austin company specializing in the simplification of video delivery and archiving over the Internet without costly investment in hardware and software.

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A Day of Doing

Woody Allen’s line has been repeated so many times it’s turned into a cliché’ but it’s still true that 90 percent of life is just showing up. This is especially true at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin. And man did our latacrew show up.

Our latakoo crew was both impressed and pleased by the diversity of people on the convention floor and their range of business interests. Even more exciting was getting to talk to many of them when they stopped to ask about our services and what we do with video.

A public relations and video professional for a major airline took a look at our online video management platform and immediately saw various uses for the carrier. We saw them, too, of course. TV crews shooting commercials for the airline could easily send rough cuts or finished versions around to all of the stakeholders. We also would simplify the recording and transmitting of video from promotional events and public gatherings. Drop the video into the ‘koo tool or send it straight from their smart phone and everyone involved gets to see the video very fast.

An Aussie stopped by and took a demo. He was from Perth but worked for a multi-national advertising agency and wanted a simple method for pushing videos to his clients and broadcasters. We expect him to sign up and start using our service. Our CTO Ben Werdmuller spent much of his day doing demos and answering technical questions about how we are doing our special magic.

You may have seen energy groups promoting events around the country like the X-Games. One of the large energy drink companies is likely to use latakoo to send videos of its events to customers and shareholders along with pushing out commercials. We also had conversations with one of the big wireless carriers, a couple of major universities in the South and Southwest, and a large training company that contracts with manufacturers and needs to distribute video for educating employees on everything from assembly techniques to repair and maintenance.

Oh yeah, CBS Radio News also stopped by and ended up doing an interview with our President Jade Kurian and myself. We are going to be included in a long feature about SXSW to be broadcast on the radio network. The correspondent was August Skamenca, who is based out of Houston, who seemingly never runs out of questions or energy.

Anyway, this is our first time on the SXSW exhibition floor as a young start up company. And with only one day falling behind us, we’ve made great contacts and expect significant benefits and returns on our investment.

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Drag, Drop, Start, ‘Koo & SXSW

March 12, 2011

This is a big week for a lot of tech companies, including our Austin home grown startup latakoo (www.latakoo.com). We’ve invested in a booth on the convention floor, promotional materials, and working our tails off to get noticed. Big things have happened for little companies at SXSW. We want to be one of those stories.

But we’ve already hit some pretty important milestones.

First, we’ve got some marquee customers. Shortly after we started our company, we demoed the technology to major television station groups. They quickly became customers because we cut their video transmission costs by reducing bandwidth consumption. Two of the largest TV station groups in America signed up with latakoo and an international news network. Now, instead of rolling out their expensive satellite and microwave trucks to get video back to their broadcast centers, they pull out their laptops, drag and drop the file into the latakoo desktop tool, and in minutes a beautiful video is back in the hands of the news production team at the station.

At South by Southwest, we are demoing the same technology used by large broadcasters. But we are making it available to consumers at our website. You can try latakoo for free just by clicking on the “Get latakoo NOW” button. That will send you to our pricing and sign up page. Create a login and get ‘kooin’. Our “’koo for all” plan allows you to send great HD and SD videos to your friends, family, and business colleagues, all for free. And it’s simple to get started. After you sign up, download and install the latakoo tool (takes a matter of minutes) and click on the icon to open our drag and drop box. Drag your video over, drop it into the latakoo Flight tool, and click “start.” We’ll shrink the file and still keep it beautiful before automatically sending it to the latakoo cloud.

Go to latakoo and you’ll see your video on your homepage. There are a number of tools to share it with anyone and everyone. You’ll see you can share via email or use our tools to push the video to your Facebook page or YouTube. We also automatically archive your videos until you choose to delete. And your entire video storage vault is searchable.

We are also going mobile. We just launched the latakoo app in the app store at iPhone. And we’ve rolled out the same technology for the iPad. Grab it from the app store and see what happens to your phone or iPad. If you’ve ever tried to send video from your phone, you know it’s just not doable. But with latakoo, it is. Our app works the same way as our online technology. Record a video on your iPhone or iPad, open your latakoo app, select the video, pick recipients from your contact list, add some key words and a title, and click start. You’ll see the video start processing and then it takes off very fast on 3G or 4G connections. Actually, you might not even believe it has been sent.

So, if you’re in Austin for SXSW, stop by and see what we do at latakoo. We are in booth #308. And you’re going to want to do what we do. Send video fast and simple. That’s what happens when you do ‘koo.

Words by James Moore; Video by Steve Kline

 

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latakoo, SXSW, and the World

SXSW Interactive Festival always starts before it starts. There are already panels underway for the 2012 session. And this year latakoo is exhibiting our technology on the floor of the convention center. We think people are going to be impressed with what we do with video. And just to prove that we thought we’d share some responses from customers already using latakoo.

latakoo makes sending and managing video simple and fast. There’s no need for professional broadcasters to be sending out expensive microwave and satellite trucks to get back their reports or raw video from the field. They can use latakoo on their laptops. Austin Kellerman, KTAB’s News Director in Abilene, Texas said,  “With latakoo, we don’t have to worry about it.”

Our technology works well across all vertical video businesses ranging from news to consumers, hobbyists, small to medium businesses, and large corporate, multi-national enterprises. We send, store, stream, and download video files in HD and SD formats for all of our customers and we have tools to allow producers to collaborate online.

Joe Mealey, who owns Deckhand Video in Los Angeles, was an early user of latakoo. “The quality is great,” Mealey said. “It worked flawlessly. I uploaded a smaller-sized video to Vimeo a few weeks ago and it took hours.”

In Austin, hometown of latakoo, SXSW and KVUE-TV, people tend to think big. One of our first customers was the ABC affiliate here in the capitol city and their technologists immediately saw the implications for change being delivered by latakoo. Rick Grimstead, the Assistant Director of Technology for KVUE was pretty explicit with his analysis.

“It really kind of blows open the door for getting content back to the station,” he said. “They can send material back from pretty much anywhere in the world.”

And if you are on you iPhone or iPad or any laptop while you are at SXSW, download the latakoo app or visit our site at www.latakoo.com and quickly and simply send some video home to your friends.

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Getting smarter about bandwidth

latakoo iPhone appToo many apps and services treat bandwidth as an unconstrained, ubiquitous resource. We think that’s wrong, for a number of reasons.

Over at The Verge today, Chris Ziegler has announced the death of unlimited bandwidth cellphone plans:

Some carriers — notably AT&T — have been aggressively deploying additional capacity in urban areas to the point of maxing out. This is where capitalism comes into play: one by one, all-you-can-eat data plans have been replaced by data buckets of varying sizes. Outrageous per-kilobyte overage charges (from legacy limited plans), a vestige of slow networks and dumb phones with smalls screens and limited capabilities, have been replaced by more reasonable rates that bill by the full gigabyte. If you go over by a gig or two, you’re not immediately bankrupted anymore — but you will pay more.

You can read the full piece over here. The upshot is that because the cellphone spectrum is limited, and because data usage is increasing 40% year on year, the networks are maxing out and passing the squeeze they’re feeling onto their customers.

According to Cisco, video accounted for 40% of all consumer Internet bandwidth in 2010, and this looks set to continue. With all the talk of how 4G LTE cellphone connections have broadband speeds, there’s no reason in the world why this wouldn’t continue over to mobile. Yet, that bandwidth is getting constrained and becoming more expensive – and video is moving to high definition, which requires a much larger amount of storage.

As app developers, we don’t know what kind of connection you’re on when you use our service. A lot of people use the latakoo Flight desktop software on 3G or 4G modems, for example. There’s a lot you can do with video once it’s in the cloud – private management, sharing, archival and collaboration – but getting it there is both slow and expensive. A single minute of uncompressed HD footage can be a couple of gigabytes in size. Imagine trying to squeeze a news report or some unedited footage through a 5Gb metered data plan!

So early on in latakoo’s development, we decided to compress video before sending it to the cloud. We harnessed the fact that computers are faster and more powerful than they’ve ever been, and decided to trade a more difficult development process for a much easier user experience. It’s possible to make video sizes much smaller while protecting quality, and as a result, that 2Gb uncompressed HD file could be sent in minutes over a 3G connection, without significantly affecting your bandwidth bill.

It’s not just about video: even in this era of fast speeds and powerful computers, we still need to be careful about what goes over the wire. Efficient protocols and judicious management of resources continue to be as important in computing as ever.

There’s some interesting conversations to be had between carriers, software platform owners and consumers. But until then, we see it as our responsibility as app developers to continue to produce the best possible experience for the user, whatever the constraints.

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latakoo salutes “The Artist”

Hard to believe, but silence proved golden in Hollywood on Sunday. The black and white silent film, “The Artist” captured Oscar gold. The movie, already a big hit, will make even bigger money with an Oscar to help in promotion. But let’s not fade to black (and white) just yet.

At latakoo, our technology team is creating tools that make it simple to spread beautiful video and music and, yep, even dialogue, if you want. We aren’t exactly building a new “Hollyweb” but we know people are expecting to share and store videos in a fast and simple way. That’s why we have rolled out our new iPhone app as the latest addition to latakoo’s comprehensive online video management platform. Shoot a video on your phone, tap your screen, and the file is on its way to your friends and archived in latakoo. In great color. And with sound. Not Technicolor or Panavision like early color films. But with digitial latakoo beauty.

And we’ll even send black and white, if you prefer.

Blog text by James Moore; Video produced by Jade Kurian & Steve Kline

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