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BurstPoint comes out of stealth with Starbak tech at its core

September 14, 2010 | Chris Payatagool
By Rodney H. Brown via Mass High Tech

Stealthy video startup BurstPoint Networks Inc. has officially launched today, backed by a recent Series A financing and based on established technology from a previous Bay State video operation.

BurstPoint, based in Westborough, is making a series of products that convert all video that an enterprise touches in a standard format so it can be delivered, manipulated, combined or otherwise used seamlessly, eliminating the problems that arise with disparate codecs, streaming technologies and end players, officials said. BurstPoint already has its Video Communications Platform in the hands of customers, said Tom Racca, CEO of BurstPoint. The company, incorporated earlier this year, was able to get a jump on its technology by purchasing some of it from Starbak Communications Inc., a now-defunct company formerly based in Burlington.

"Starbak had some pretty good technology," Racca said. "We acquired some of the property of Starbak. We took a few of the engineers and we pulled together some really strong industry veterans and we have been working on this for months."

Among the products BurstPoint makes is an encoder that converts captured video from, say, a web cam or camcorder, to the WMV format BurstPoint uses on the fly, and video conferencing system that does the same for the type of video seen in those systems, all the way up to full HD systems such as those made by Cisco Systems Inc. Cisco, in fact is a licensee of the technology BurstPoint bought from Starbak, through the Cisco subsidiary Tandberg. Starbak had sued Tandberg ASA when it was an independent maker of video conferencing technology in 2006 over patent infringement. The companies eventually settled out of court, with Tandberg paying Starbak licensing fees for the technology.

Two keys of BurstPoint's video platform are its Delivery Node and its VCP Manager. The first, officials said, is a way to multi-cast a video stream out to various endpoints, or to other nodes, which can then multiply the endpoints exponentially. According to Racca, the delivery nodes come in sizes from 50 video streams up to 1,500. The manager handles all of the components of a system, even down to the Display Engine, a dongle that allows any digital display to show the video from a BurstPoint stream.

Racca says that display engine is key to one target market for the company - digital signage.

"There is a large retail customer we are talking to," Racca said. "They are thinking about using this for their digital signage, but they also want to offer training videos on the signage before the store opens." By having all the video in the same format run through the BurstPoint technology, that can be done easily, he said.

Racca himself is a veteran of the local networking industry. He was vice president of marketing at Colubris Networks Inc, when the Waltham company was acquired by Hewlett Packard Co. in 2008 for an undisclosed amount. He was later that year named as the ProCurve wireless access point division that came about as a result of the purchase.

Backing BurstPoint is Windspeed Ventures, the company said. According to federal documents, BurstPoint in June took in $1.1 million from a planned $2.1 million round. Racca said that the round will grow in the near future, but he wouldn't disclose the planned final amount of the A round.

"There is another group of investors that have come in," he said. "We didn't need a lot, we are already generating revenue. It's not like we have another year to go before we get off the ground, so we didn't need to take on a lot of investment."

BurstPoint, now at about 25 employees, sells its basic core systems as a combination of the manager and a delivery node, able to handle 50 streams. That sells for $20,000 and $6,000 per appliance, but when you get into the larger numbers of streams, the cost does go up. That makes for some big deals, Racca said.

"One of our customers had a million-dollar deployment," he said. "As you might imagine, they got a discount."

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