Singapore Startup Temasys Builds Next Generation Web Communications
Posted On October 30, 2014 by Nadine Yap in Blog
by Susan Cunningham
Reprinted from Forbes Asia
7/14/2014 @ 1:30PM
Singapore startup Temasys last month unveiled its [Skylink] platform—a combination of tools and infrastructure that will enable developers to swiftly embed Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC) in browsers, applications, websites, and internet-connected devices. This month, Temasys will release a plug-in for WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. In other words, if you have a site that is hosted by one of those content management systems–as Forbes.com does–you might soon be able to conduct a high-quality audio or video chat with a reader or hold an interactive seminar right from you home site or blog.
[Skylink] isn’t a consumer product, although within a few years we all should be benefiting. Customers are developers and enterprises that want to create better, cheaper, more reliable communications services. For example, messaging applications like Viber, WhatsApp and Wechat could build on Skyway to add HD video conferencing. Snapchat could add audio and video functions. So could Facebook. Smartphones could soon be able to support up to four persons on a single call.
As for existing interactive video, such as Skype, the Skyway tools can enhance video and audio quality while taking up much less bandwidth. In the image below of an IBM IBM +0.55% Connections B2B video app built with Temasys tools, the visual quality is sharper than Skype’s. Skype itself could also adapt the Skyway tools to enable many more users to participate in a group chat than it does now, Temasys CEO Chip Wilcox told me.
IBM Connections with Temasys ERTC (Photo Credit: Temasys)
I was especially interested in WebRTC when I learned that it would eliminate the need to download a standalone app like WhatsApp or (ugh! Don’t get me started) Skype or a browser plug-in or add-on requiring Java or (ugh, ugh) Flash. We won’t need to make sure our chat partner has the same app. We won’t even need to sign up for app accounts.
Eventually, WebRTC will be embedded in every browser, website, application and device. Leading the way, the newest editions of the Chrome and Firefox browsers are already designed to be compatible with WebRTC apps. Once WebRTC becomes ubiquitous, we will initiate audio and video phone calls, text chats and even financial transactions simply by clicking a URL or Web link (which raises the question of the future roles of telecom companies).
World Wide WebRTC Working Group
The Web doesn’t evolve into the next generation willy nilly, of course. Working groups within the World Wide Web Consortium first agree on the underlying open-source basic standards, or reference codes.
In the case of WebRTC working group, only seven of the 37 member companies are collaborating to create the reference code to upgrade online interactions. As proponents tend to put it, WebRTC will be the first technology invented “from the ground up” specifically to facilitate online interactions. Group members include big players like Google GOOGL +1.25%, Mozilla, Intel and Imagination Technologies as well as two-year-old Temasys, which has only 16 employees, all in Singapore.
“What Temasys with Skyway is offering is an easy way for developers to incorporate WebRTC into their products without a lot of tedious coding from scratch,” as a writer with Real Time Communications put it. “With the Singapore-based company’s APIs, SDKs and CMS widgets, they can develop proof-of-concept apps quickly.”
Freemium revenue model
I was especially interested in Temasys because so much (most?) of the “tech” and internet companies one hears about in Southeast Asia rely on little local ingenuity. Be it social networks or e-commerce, hotel booking or taxi-hailing apps, most rely on off-the-shelf technology and mimic ideas hatched in the United States or elsewhere. Granted, there are original games and virtual icons created here, especially for mobile phones, but how do those inventions push along a country’s development or advance individual skills any more than spending three hours a day playing on a smartphone?
Updated July 17 to clarify foundership: Temasys’s principal founders and executives are foreigners but they had lived in Singapore for a long time before Temasys officially opened for business in March 2012. Founders and board members Tom Preststulen, from Norway, and Bill Lewis, from Britain, started the company as a Video as a Service (VaaS) business, using what was then Vidyo’s leading-edge conferencing technology. By the end of 2012, they switched focus to developing enterprise-grade solutions for WebRTC. CEO Wilcox, formerly of Yahoo, is American and CTO Alex Gouaillard is French.
An initial US$2 million in seed funding was raised by founders, employees and friends. The combination of a grant from the Singapore government’s Infocomm Development Authority and incentives against expenses could total an additional S$350,000 ($282,000). Now Temasys executives plan to pitch investors in Silicon Valley for Series A funding of $5 million.
How does Temasys plan to make money? The intent is to make Temasys “the Amazon Web Services of Real Time Communications,” Wilcox said. Temasys is providing developers access to its toolkits and infrastructure on the “Freemium” model. ”We encourage them to create, test and deploy applications on our platform, for little or no cost, ” Wilcox explained. “ When they go to market, and they become successful, then we share in that success by asking them to pay for the usage of our platform.”