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A big fish in IP video transmission

April 30, 2013 | Telepresence Options

Miroslav Wicha

Story and Images by Paul Delean / The Gazette

MONTREAL - Sharks aren't known for their vision, so why is their image a recurring theme at St-Laurent-based tech company Haivision?

"They don't see well, but they never stop. Like our company, man. It never stops moving. Haifisch is shark in German; I speak some German, used to live there. And I've been fascinated with sharks since I was a kid," company founder and president Miroslav (Mirko) Wicha, 52, explained in an interview in a corporate office filled with shark paraphernalia.

Founded less than a decade ago, Haivision has become a big fish in the highly specialized area of Internet-protocol (IP) video transmission and management, with proprietary technology that allows for rapid, secure, high-definition streaming over the Internet, "cloud" computing or private networks, as well as recording and storage.

It's one of the fastest-growing tech companies in the province, with four foreign acquisitions in the past four years, yet few Quebecers have ever heard of it.

"We're under the radar," Wicha agreed. "The fact we do 99 per cent of our business outside Canada is part of it."

Haivision was hatched when Wicha learned that the video-conferencing and broadband-video assets of Montreal-based Miranda Technologies were on the block in 2003. Miranda had acquired that division when U.S.-based General DataComm got into financial difficulty and sold off assets in 2001.

"They made encoders and decoders, the best in the world. It was amazing technology, but nobody knew what to do it with it. Verizon was their biggest customer, and I figured, if Verizon jumped on it, it's got to be good and there have to be other markets. It was the birth of what's now called telepresence."

Wicha approached Miranda's chief executive and, with a partner, privately acquired the division and its 12 employees in 2004. "They included seven of the best engineers in the world. They're still with me."

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