Once upon a time--say, a few years ago--a lot of people believed that Webcasting was the Next Big Thing. We were going to watch television-like, serial entertainment right on the Web. A lot of seasoned film and television people jumped their respective ships for start up companies that would provide original programming for the Web. Venture capital poured in. Those were the days.
Though the venture capital dried up and most of those companies have gone out of business, Webcasting is still alive and well. Broadband connectivity is proliferating at a rapid clip, and multimedia-enabled computers are cheaper than ever. And although entertainment hasn't exactly become the raison d'etre of Webcasting, it's thriving in other markets. One of these markets is corporate teleconferencing. The other is distance learning.
SLOW AND STEADY WINS
Avacast (www.avacast.com) serves both markets with its Webcasting product, Avacaster. Founded in Los Angeles in 2001, the company is quietly surviving in-and perhaps epitomizes-the new, post-dot-bomb economy. It's a small company, with about 10 employees and a few contractors. Everyone there wears a lot of different hats. Even the CEO has been known to answer emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
That CEO, Rob Terrell, says Avacast is "cautious about growing too fast. All of us lived through the dot-com days and watched good companies sink under debt incurred by a too-rapid expansion. We decided to make money the old fashioned way: make an excellent product, sell it for a reasonable price, and keep our customers happy."