Sramana Mitra: Let’s talk about some of the digital businesses in sports tech.
Keith Bank: One that I’m particularly proud of and where we’ve got a lot of activity right now is Phenix. This came to me in a very unusual way. My son was in the commercial real estate business. One day he said, “I like what I’m doing and I’m doing well, but I think I want to go to work for an early-stage tech company.” He did and he found this company.
About three months into it, he called me and said, “You got to look at what we’re doing. This is some pretty interesting stuff.” Basically, a Swiss national who came over to get his PhD in 2002 had rearchitected an open platform called WebRTC that Google had developed about a decade ago to handle real-time communication.
It was architected for speed but not for scale. Stefan Birrer, the tech genius behind this, thought that WebRTC was going to be a standard and was going to be embedded in all web browsers going forward. He wrote about two million lines of code over a series of years.
He kept the two endpoints, but rearchitected everything in between to allow not only blazing speed but also for scale and with total synchronicity between people regardless of location.
We now have a company that has a PaaS model that can stream videos with less than half a second of latency to millions of people concurrently in broadcast quality. Why is that important? To be able to make micro bets on sports while a game is going on. 70% of betting activities are going to be on these in-game micro bets. We enable that.
We are the only company in the world that enables that. We power Manheim Auto Auctions. It’s the largest auto auction platform in the world. Used car dealers from all over the world go on to bid on cars. By definition, an auction has to be in real-time to function. We have lots of use cases across sports, auction, trivia.
We’re starting to stream content from rock stars’ homes. They want to be able to interact with their fans. Without real-time, two-way communication, you can’t do that. We’re in the midst of closing a $15 million Series B funding round. We’ve just launched a bunch of projects with several major telcos and sports properties and just kept hitting the scaling part of this business.
Sramana Mitra: Do you go to market as a platform?
Keith Bank: It’s a platform. It’s a technology solution that a tech provider could either white label or they can also subscribe. Everything is done through data centers. We have 32 data centers across the world.
Sramana Mitra: Who is doing the application development? Who is developing the use cases?
Keith Bank: We have an internal engineering team that not only develops the code but also does the aggregation and implementation for various customers.
One of the geniuses of what Stefan’s created is that it’s a totally automated system. You don’t need people sitting around and making sure things are working properly. It’s all provisioned in an automated fashion. Everything is set up in such a way that it requires little human intervention.