Interview with Brendon Mills, Ripcode

Austin- and Dallas-based Ripcode ( is in the business of developing appliances used to transcode video between different formats, which is important for the online video market and streaming videos to different kinds of mobile phones, PCs, and other platforms. The firm is venture backed, and raised a $10.75M round of venture funding last fall; the firm counts social networking web site MySpace among its major customers. We recently ran into Brendon Mills, the firm's CEO, and had a quick chat with him about what the company is up to.

Tell us a little bit about Ripcode and what you're doing?

Brendon Mills: We're a video transcoding appliance -- hardware and infrastructure -- for Internet and mobile web operators that are deploying video. What does that mean? Our customers are people like MySpace, or customers who aggregate video. They have a large library of videos, and need to get to multiple screens, so that could be an iPhone, or that could be a Blackberry. So one of the issues today in the industry is transcoding these videos for all those different screens. For example transcoding, a five minute file, will take between five and ten minutes, and when you're talking about hundreds of thousands of files a day, you're talking about million of files in your library, and saying you want to get to all these different screens, you don't have enough equipment, or enough time, to pre-transcode everything ahead of viewership. So what we do is allow for an on-the-fly transcode, you only transcode at the time that it is requested, and we do that where the user can't detect the difference, or where we can store that at people like Akamai for you. We're an infrastructure company, based in Dallas and Austin, and we've been around for two and a half years, and we're one of the few new media plays in Texas right now.

It looks like this is both hardware and software?

Brendon Mills: It's a hardware and a software solution, and we're also selling infrastructure and professional services to these operators.

There's a lot of people talking about providing transcoding as a service, can you talk about how this fits into things?

Brendon Mills: We're selling hardware. So if companies are hosting transcoding, we sell to them, if they an operator doing transcoding themselves, we can also sell to them. There is so much confusion around the ASP model that if we were to go in that direction we'd be competing with our own customer base. So instead we're an arms dealer.

You have some good venture backing, who's behind the firm?

Brendon Mills: Hunt Ventures is our investor in Texas. El Dorado Partners out in the Bay Area, ATA Ventures in the Bay Area, and Vesbridge is on the East Coast.

Where are you in terms of your technology and deployment?

Brendon Mills: We're in our second quarter of revenue. We're doing very well. We'll have a major customer announcement this fall, which is the largest on-demand transcoding opportunity, ever.

So how many people do you have in Austin and how many in Dallas?

Brendon Mills: We've got twenty seven in Austin and fourteen in Dallas.

Why the split between the two cities?

Brendon Mills: I used to live in Austin, and moved to Dallas in the beginning so we're split. It's entirely a founder reason. I've lived in both Austin and Dallas, done startups in both cities, and there's good reasons to have people in both cities.