After quietly building a leading position handling university video libraries, Panopto has named a new chief executive and solidified its Seattle presence.
The company was formed in 2007 to commercialize technology that Carnegie Mellon University developed to capture and share classroom lectures.
It began with headquarters in Pittsburgh and a development office in Seattle led by Eric Burns, an alum who had gone on to work on Microsoft search technologies.
Burns tapped into the network of CMU alums at Microsoft and other Seattle area companies to build an office that’s now the center of gravity for Panopto, with 35 people in the Smith Tower. The Pittsburgh office has 21 people and additional people work at sales offices that have been opening up overseas.
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Today the company is announcing that Burns has been promoted to chief executive. He’s succeeding William Guttman, a veteran tech investor in Pittsburgh, who will remain Panopto’s executive chairman.
“As we look ahead to continued market expansion and success, Eric’s technology vision, proven acumen as a business leader and understanding of the enterprise and education sectors will propel Panopto in its next stage of growth,” Guttman said in a release.
Burns, 36, is a Nashville native who started programming on a Commodore 64, helped CMU develop the lecture-capture system and later developed a book search feature for Microsoft before the project was scuttled. He takes over Panopto as the company sees about 40 percent annual sales growth, pushes into new overseas markets and extends its software-as-a-service offering to business customers.
“I wouldn’t call us dominant yet in enterprise, although we are a leader,” Burns said. “But in higher education lecture capture, it’s fair to say we’ve pulled ahead of the pack.”
Panopto’s special sauce is a search engine that uses all sorts of metadata – including speech and character recognition – to index not just video files but content within the files. This enables users to quickly find a particular quote within hundreds of hours of lectures, for instance.
After companies struggling to manage their video collections – including training and orientation videos – approached the company, it rolled out an enterprise product in 2011.
The company seems like it could be an acquisition target for a big search provider, a video service provider or even an enterprise storage and services company. But Burns said the plan for now is to continue building a standalone company.