From Seed round to Exit in 3.5 years: an exhilarating investor journey with Deep Tech portfolio company Streamroot
By Romain Lavault, General Partner at Partech
This was my tweet back in 2015 unveiling the Streamroot seed round which Partech led, together with Techstars Ventures and a number of high profile Angels. Since then, Streamroot hasn’t stopped growing and went from success to success. Paraphrasing CEO Pierre-Louis Théron who once said that “2016 has seen milestone after milestone for Streamroot”, I would say that the last four years saw milestone after milestone for Streamroot!
Let’s go back to see what happened in only 3.5 years.
It all started with a pitch deck
In 2015, Partech’s Seed activity was still in its early days. We had launched Partech Entrepreneur Fund in 2013 — a €30M fund — and in April 2015, we announced the first closing of our second seed fund, Partech Entrepreneur Fund II (eventually oversubscribed at €100 million). The fund aimed at financing seed-stage startups in the U.S. and Europe on the hottest emerging tech topics. One of them was the rise of OTT and how the exponential consumption of online video would stretch existing infrastructure and compression technologies to their limit.
Paris-based Streamroot was just graduating from Techstars Boston summer 2015 and that’s when Pierre-Louis Théron, Nikolay Rodionov and Axel Delmas started fundraising. We had been tracking them for a couple years before, while they were still students and incubating their startup-to-be at Le Camping in Paris.
In their pitch deck (screenshots below), the Founders stroke a nerve (at least for a deep tech investor like us): online video traffic is exploding but current infrastructure just won’t scale, i.e. a massive problem in the making, waiting for a solution.
See, video traffic was poised to represent the vast majority of internet traffic within 4 years (this actually happened by the way) and centralized infrastructures like CDNs were not designed to scale indefinitely.
That’s where Streamroot came in. With a team of 12 talented people, they had created a powerful decentralized P2P technology for seamless video streaming, which offered to CDNs the ability to scale indefinitely!
They had launched a SaaS solution one month before, already landed 77 sign-ups and 2 paying customers and had the first live implementations up and running:
They were raising $1.5M to:
- implement the technology on mobile, tablets and set top boxes
- develop their sales force to address global markets, with a focus on US broadcasters
- scale SaaS revenues with a focus on faster customer implementation
Not only were we sharing a same vision of where the market was going in the next 4 years, but I also immediately clicked with Pierre-Louis, Nikolay and Axel. In addition to that, their first customers were also very positive about the solution and prime to testify that the market would soon require such solutions with the ever rising demand for online video (it was only GoT Season 3 then, but hey they were right!).
In 2016, “peer-accelerated content delivery” officially emerged as a new trend for the online video industry players and their greatest challenge: the explosion of video traffic. In this context, Streamroot was one of the very few players in a position to build a leading position in hybrid video delivery.
In October 2016, Streamroot was selected by Dailymotion to control cost and QoS for large scale OTT video delivery
In November 2016, Streamroot gained strong industry support from Cisco, taking home a $150,000 first prize from among 5,000 entries at their annual Grand Innovation Challenge.
Streamroot had then built a robust, scalable and cost-effective delivery solution that not only enabled online video providers to grow profitably but more importantly to offer a much better video experience to their billions of users around the world. That’s why the company started to work with much bigger clients and major broadcasters worldwide:
In April 2017, Streamroot entered in an agreement to help Vivendi SA, a French multinational mass media conglomerate, deliver large-scale OTT video content through its patented Streamroot DNA™ service. Streamroot started enabling profitable video on demand scaling for Vivendi and CANAL PLAY.
In 2017, the company was growing but needed more money to expand in the US.
They raised $3.2 M from Partech, Techstars Venture Capital Fund, Verizon Ventures and R/GA (see on TechCrunch).
The money raised was used to recruit talent in Sales and R&D, and to expand to the US. Since then, the company has offices in Paris, New York and Denver and a team of 30 people, 14 nationalities, speaking 15 languages.
In May 2018, TF1 Group, the largest European media group, selected Streamroot to power its online video offerings. With its MYTF1 digital platform seeing more than 1.3 billion videos viewed in 2017, TF1 sought out state-of-the-art delivery solutions to ensure long-term scalability and profitability.
In July 2018, Streamroot powered the World Cup for over 19.7 million viewers, with traffic delivered via its distributed network peaking at over 1.26 Tbps. Streamroot delivered an average of 70% of partner broadcasters’ total World Cup traffic, delivering a more consistent, high quality video for football fans at 100% uptime.
In January 2019, RTVE, the largest audiovisual group in Spain, implemented Streamroot’s distributed network architecture — Streamroot DNATM — throughout its digital offerings including its live and on-demand video services;
In February 2019, Streamroot won the public tender for peer-accelerated online video delivery with France’s biggest audiovisual group: France Televisions
In April 2019, Streamroot announced a major partnership and Reseller Agreement with CenturyLink.
After an incredible feedback from the market about this partnership, this prompted CenturyLink to make this relationship exclusive and make this a key weapon to win on the very competitive OTT Video Broadcasting market.
That led to today’s announcement and the acquisition of Streamroot by CenturyLink (CTL)!
What a journey ahead!
As a board member from Day 1, I have had a privileged position to see them grow as a team and as a deep tech startup, while helping them navigating the ups and downs of the startup rollercoaster. It has been a hard choice but a wise one to split the founders early on and build a true transatlantic company, with Pierre-Louis driving Business Development from New York, while Nikolay and Axel were building an incredible Operations and Tech team from Paris. This has been key in serving 2,000X more users in 3 years on almost every continent and every time zone, while building on the amazing talent pool of the French Tech.
Streamroot is now exiting the Partech portfolio but this is not the end of the story, rather the start of a new era as part of a great public company. CenturyLink is the best acquirer and partner to take them to global domination! Next time you watch an online video with no buffer and perfect quality whether you’re on your PC, mobile, tablet, Apple TV or else, it is very likely that this is Streamroot-powered!
I am grateful that Pierre-Louis, Nikolay and Axel chose Partech as an investor and I wish them even greater milestones in their new home!
Eager for more?