THE MAN behind video media company Blinkx, Suranga Chandratillake has strong views about why Britain lacks its own Facebook. Negative perceptions of tech engineers and software developers are holding people back. Whether this would mean all eight-year old schoolboys, when given their first computer, deciding (as Chandratillake did) to teach themselves BASIC programming within two weeks, is less certain.
Indeed, Chandratillake has always liked to build things. By 10, he'd realised he preferred writing his own games than playing someone else's. By his early 20s, he had a degree in Computer Science from Cambridge and a new job at Cambridge-based software company Autonomy. The firm soon moved Chandratillake to the US as its chief technology officer, and it was there that he had the opportunity to take some smart technology, build it into a new product, and launch ¦ his own business.
prove it's the - you have Blinkx is an internet media platform powered by CORE - the world's "most advanced video engine". It connects online viewers with content distributors, and monetises those interactions through advertising. It is headquartered in San Francisco and London, with revenue for the year to March 2013 of $198m (£122m). Net profit before acquisition and exceptional costs, and other income was $25.3m. This year, it has acquired Grab Media, created new original video channels, and launched a new mobile site - blinkx.com.
TALKING TURKEY It was while hosting a Thanksgiving dinner in 2004 that the idea first struck Chandratillake. At the time, video existed online, but was limited by slow internet connections and poor quality content. He had been tasked with carving the turkey, but had "no idea how to do it. So I searched for instructions on the web, finding only text results that were incredibly difficult to follow. I eventually stumbled across a video and, while it was grainy and small, it made me realise that, first, video is uniquely compelling as a media; secondly, it was only a matter of time before it would burst onto the internet; and thirdly, that when it did, it would be fragmented. So any kind of service or tool that would assist in finding the right video at the right time was going to have huge value to the consumer," he says.
He was right. Internet connections rapidly improved, and with that came the explosion of professional and personal content being uploaded online. Nonetheless, Blinkx was one of the few companies of its type that is still standing today. Direct competitors, Chandratillake thinks, spent too much time focusing on revenues and business models, and too little on the technology itself. "But we built a unique tech product. For the first two years, our team was made up exclusively of engineers and software developers; there wasn't is graph will right choice to just do it a salesperson in sight." And Blinkx "focused on one part of the problem, and we didn't allow ourselves to get distracted from building it."