Microsoft acquires Peer5 to beef up Teams livestreaming

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Microsoft today announced that it acquired Peer5, a startup developing platform to optimize bandwidth usage via mesh networking technology. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Microsoft said that it would use Peer5’s services to enhance live video streaming in Microsoft Teams.

Companies are increasingly relying on streaming to interact with their workforce and manage the new world of hybrid work. From company-wide trainings to all-hand meetings and town halls, broadcasts are becoming critical for engaging with employees. Indeed, as live streaming becomes more common in the workplace, large organizations are turning to enterprise video streaming solutions that scale. Global Market Insights predicts that the videoconferencing market will grow 19% between 2020 and 2026, reaching $50 billion in value by 2026, and Zoom alone now hosts 45 billion minutes of webinars a year.

Palo Alto, California-based Peer5 focuses on the tech underpinning these types of streaming solutions. The company, which was founded in 2012, operates what it claims is the world’s largest peer-to-peer content delivery network.

“As Microsoft Teams has become the primary communications and collaboration platform for many of our customers, they’ve asked us for more integrated … solutions for large-scale meetings and virtual events,” Nicole Herskowitz, general manager for Teams, wrote in a blog post. “Peer5 … expand[s] our ability for delivering secure, high-quality, large-scale live video streaming with optimized network performance in Teams.”

eCDN

Peer5 delivers what’s called an Enterprise Content Delivery Networks (eCDN). In a nutshell, eCDNs can alleviate congestion in corporate networks to deliver improved video streaming and broadcasting for large audiences of employees.

Peer5 specifically offers a WebRTC-based eCDN framework that runs in-browser to optimize bandwidth usage, with self-balancing mesh networks that automatically scale as the number of viewers increase. The technology doesn’t require installation on endpoint machines and can be deployed without changes to physical network infrastructure.

Prior to the acquisition, Peer5, which raised $3.5 million in venture capital from investors including FG Angels, claimed to have powered live events with as many as 2 million concurrent users. To date, the startup’s product has been used by more than 1 billion users.

“When many employees stream at the same time, the network gets congested. Our technology solves this problem in the most efficient way possible, without changing the existing network infrastructure,” Peer5’s Weiss said in a statement. “Peer5 is integrated together with the video player so it is enabled instantaneously for every employee within an enterprise. We push the envelope even further by adding logic and mechanisms that adjust to any device and any network without requiring any custom setup from the customer side.”

Herskowitz says that Peer5 solution will allow Microsoft to provide a first-party eCDN offering in the future. (Current Peer5 customers will be able to continue using Peer5 services.) However, Microsoft also plans to continue supporting eCDN solutions from its certified partners in addition.

The expansion of Teams via Peer5 comes as Microsoft’s videoconferencing service reaches 145 million daily active users. Recently, the company introduced features like Fluid components, which allow chat users to send a message with a table, action items, or lists that can be coauthored and edited by everyone in line. Teams’ new shared stage integration offers developers access to the main stages in meetings through a configuration in their app manifest. And meeting event APIs, launched in preview this spring, enable the automation of meeting-related workflows through events like meeting start and end.

Teams will also be natively integrated with the upcoming version of Microsoft Windows, Windows 11.

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