Imagine starting a sales pitch not with the usual tactics of convincing a prospect why your products and services are better in performance or value over the competition, but on the notion of your company being more financially stable than the competition – and therefore a more reliable long-term choice.
That is precisely how Marc Mulgrum, SVP of Sales at Setplex, chooses to approach every sales pitch – and his conversation with Faultline this week was no different. He boasted of a solid and highly profitable company with zero debt, which even owns its own office building outright – together forming a decent anchor that instill confidence in any potential buyer, before even touching on technology.
It may be an unconventional sales approach, but evidently it is working wonders – with the US-based IPTV and OTT video platform vendor being pummeled with contracts during the past two months, as global sales pipelines gradually reopen with economies whirring back into life. Setplex even has enough cash in the bank now to spend a few dollars on PR activities for the first time in its 15-year history, which is why Setplex has seemingly appeared from thin air.
Every so often, we arrive through the front door of a vendor website and think, “wow, where do we start?” – and Setplex is a prime example. While we are probably not the first to call Setplex a ‘Jack of all trades’ type vendor, we are inclined to hold off on adding ‘master of none’ to that analogy, given its longstanding expertise in middleware development.
Walking through the Setplex platform, we see IPTV transcoding, CDN, middleware, security, custom interfaces, AVoD monetization, and even its own set top hardware (as well as offering third-party hardware). Setplex has only one strict criteria – customers must bring their own content.
Once an operator has content in place, it can send everything to the Setplex transcoder, which Mulgrum described as “much more than a transcoder.” Called Setrix, this is more of an all-in-one media processor – going beyond a standard transcoder by doing things like handling server-side ad insertion, detecting SCTE 35 markers in live linear TV streams and outputting HLS streams for ad insertion, as well as the core transcoding/encoding, transmuxing/re-packaging, and of course comes with major DRM support.
Mulgrum pointed to playlist creation as a neat feature of Setrix, whereby simple playout allows for the creation of live streams from files. Time-shift, catch-up, and DVR are all part and parcel of the Setrix specifications too. “It does everything Wowza does, and can stand up against Harmonic,” he said.
Such a multifaceted platform packaged up as one raises suspicions that Setplex’s approach is all about driving vendor lock-in, although Mulgrum assured us this is a highly flexible architecture, with customers encouraged to bring their own app development resources, or analytics platforms, or own CRM, where applicable.
The real money is made in middleware. Called Nora, the multi-tenant technology runs on a microservices based architecture, managing multiple accounts within the same instance, separating out revenue, subscribers, content, and branded apps. Setplex says its perfection of the core software means its middleware requires minimal coding skills, allowing operators to edit their content, EPG, main menu, interface, and more with simple, user-guided clicks. Its approach to unified application management is also key, making sure operator customers are able to launch IPTV/OTT applications on all major app stores, including smart TVs.
By this point in our call with Mulgrum, we are starting to get the gist of what Setplex is all about. While middleware is its bread and butter, there is a real landgrab for contracts happening right now in Latin America, in particular from aggregators. “There are hundreds of ISPs in Brazil who all want IPTV,” he claimed, also pointing to India as a region of significant growth.
Setplex started out in 2006 with strong ties to Europe, using third-party middleware to distribute IPTV platforms to operators. Critical change came some seven years later in 2013, when the full Setplex development stack was launched, which allowed the company to secure a presence in almost every continent around the globe – managing more than 5 million subscribers across some 150 platforms today.
Mulgrum is bullishly optimistic about the coming months, projecting that Setplex will onboard some 300,000 new subscribers – driving sales of between $10 million to $15 million over the next 12 months.
Often when Faultline is introduced to a technology vendor with such a multilayered offering, we will see a more streamlined portfolio when revisiting that same company say a year or two later. Mulgrum doesn’t believe Setplex is in any position to be trimming the fat. In fact, he sees Setplex going in the opposite direction by adding more services, suggesting a focus on more front-end app development features. There is no fear of product commoditization among the Setplex ranks for now, although that may just be Mulgrum’s fierce sales hat talking.
As for customers, Mulgrum reeled off a whole bunch of names that unfortunately must stay off the record, as well as teasing a forthcoming deal with an unnamed multi-billion conglomerate.