By Rosa Saba
Inside the offices of LiveQoS, a small team is working away at a service that could make transferring large files over the internet a whole lot faster – and cheaper.
MASV is a browser-based service originally intended for media and entertainment creatives that is giving the biggest names in file transferring a run for their money.
David Horne, the vice-president of marketing for MASV, is the son of a well-known Ottawa tech leader. His father Martin is the CEO of LiveQoS, a network acceleration company.
Though the younger Horne has a tech background himself, his main focus lies in digital marketing and strategy. After working at a startup called Blaze in Ottawa, he spent more than three years with Boston-based Akamai before Ottawa pulled him back.
“I kind of cut my teeth in the startup scene,” says Horne. “With my dad being
who he is … I’ve always been drawn to the startup stuff.”
Horne found himself at LiveQoS, where the company had started taking the technology they normally sold to large manufacturers and providing it to end users. However, they quickly realized that though they had the technology, end users needed a product
– and there was a whole client base waiting.
“The media and entertainment space just kind of popped up as somebody who’s moving very large files on very tight deadlines,” explains Horne. “They really need to use the most out of their internet connections to be able to hit their deadlines.”
TESTING THE WATERS
MASV was born out of that need: a browser-based, pay-as-you-go transfer service able to send hundreds of gigabytes of video files in a matter of hours.
The first version, released almost two years ago, was simple: just a service clients used to send their files over an accelerated network. The second version had a new cloud provider, Microsoft’s Azure, as well as a portal function – essentially, the receiving end of the service.
The third version, released in February, offers significantly more. Horne says he hopes 3.0 will be the version of MASV that really allows the product to take off.
“The two first versions were kind of testing the waters, figuring out what people wanted,” he says. The biggest change is that MASV 3.0 is built on an API, which means the service can integrate with programs such as Adobe Premiere Pro or Slack.
Deliveries can now be tracked in more detail, which is critical for the time-
sensitive nature of many media projects.
The service is also customizable – media companies can upload their own art to the mobile-friendly site, making the service professionally branded.
MASV 3.0 also upgrades a previous 10 servers to a total of 160 around the world, making file delivery faster, and adds Amazon cloud servers to the mix.
The service makes a big difference for small and medium-sized companies, as well as freelancers, explains Horne. One example he gives is a customer in Los Angeles on a 10-day shoot whose post-production company is in the U.K. The customer has to send around 400 gigabytes of data every single day.
Their options before MASV were slim: they could ship a hard drive daily at a cost of about US$250, which can take a couple of days and isn’t always reliable.
“There’s no customs on the internet,” notes Horne.
They could use DropBox or Google Drive, but that takes time, too. (MASV is eight times faster than DropBox and three times faster than Google Drive.) Or, they could use one of the programs that offers a comparable service to MASV – but with a couple of caveats.
The first is that any service comparable in speed to MASV (Horne mentions IBM’s Aspera and Signiant) is expensive. Until recently, both competitors were subscription-based, though soon after MASV was released, Aspera began to offer a pay-as-you-go solution as well, albeit at four times the cost of MASV. For larger enterprise
customers such as broadcasters, this may not be a problem. But for small companies and freelancers, the cost is prohibitive.
Second, both Aspera and Signiant are UDP-based, meaning they operate much like a torrenting program. Both the sender and the receiver must have the program installed, which makes them less user-friendly. Furthermore, network firewalls often block UDP traffic.
“They have a really fast solution that works well, so long as they control both the networks that are using it,” explains Horne. This is fine for large networks, but not for freelancers or small companies filming all over the world.
MASV’s solution is to be based in the browser instead, more like Google Drive or Dropbox.
“We’ve taken kind of the best of both worlds,” says Horne. “We’re able to transfer really fast. But we’re highly compatible with whatever destination you’re trying to transfer from.”
Horne is confident the third version of MASV will accelerate the product’s growth, especially since 3.0 will be easy to update regularly. Updates after 3.0 will include an app (currently being developed in partnership with Algonquin College), integrations with video editing software and other options such as pay-as-you-go cloud storage.
The growth of MASV’s consumer base, Horne says, is likely to come from the clients themselves. “I’m a firm believer that the only way to build a really successful SaaS business is through word of mouth,” he says.