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May 09, 2016

Parker's Airtime Aims to Improve with Help from vLine Acquisition

Famed Silicon Valley Sean Parker has had his share of ups and downs. He is, of course, most famously known for his venture Napster and the legal troubles that created for him, and his work with Facebook, which was depicted in the hit movie The Social Network. But, more recently, Parker has been working to get a WebRTC-based group mobile video chat company known as Airtime off the ground.

The unveiling of Airtime was back in 2012. As Kent Bernhard Jr. in an August 2012 piece for Upstart Business Journal wrote, despite Airtime’s star-studded unveiling, which featured Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart, as well as Silicon Valley stars Sean and representatives from VC backers Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the demonstration – and the service itself – were a bit of a flop.

But that was four years ago. Parker and his team have since been working to improve Airtime.

Those efforts include Airtime’s recent acquisition of vLine, whose team will be moving to join Airtime at its Palo Alto, Calif., facility. Airtime is buying vLine in an effort to achieve the very low latency that its six-way video chat service requires for an optimal user experience.

“A few years ago people, including us, were messing around with hacked together solutions, which just didn’t cut it for real-time mobile video,” Daniel Klaus, president of Airtime, recently wrote in the company blog. “The reliability was spotty, and it felt very subpar.”

Meanwhile, the May 4 vLine blog talks about how the two companies have been working to build a globally distributed WebRTC platform optimized for mobile devices and networks, and how that work has been quite challenging.

“Unlike simple streaming applications that can tolerate latency on the order of seconds and leverage existing content delivery networks, our network has to provide latency on the order of milliseconds so that people anywhere in the world can hold intelligible conversations,” according to the vLine blog. “We have made much progress towards this goal, but we have more to do and exciting ideas on how to further improve.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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