AddLive does WebRTC APIs: An Interview With Kavan Seggie

January 10, 2013

[UPDATE: In 2014, AddLive was acquired by Snapchat and taken off market]

AddLive does an API platform on WebRTC. Here’s n interview with their CEO.

This is the first API’er company I am interviewing, and it is about time – this space is getting crowded fast.

I selected to start with AddLive because of two main reasons:

  1. Wello, a company I interviewed already, uses AddLive as their API platform of choice
  2. AddLive started with WebRTC to begin with and this is their main focus – it isn’t something they added on top of an existing API platform
Kavan Seggie, AddLive CEO

Here is what Kavan Seggie, the CEO of AddLive, had to say about his company and their use of WebRTC.

What is AddLive all about?

AddLive is a developer platform that allows companies to easily integrate live video and voice into their applications. We are built on top of WebRTC.

WebRTC is a powerful technology that we believe will disrupt many industries by providing web developers with access to sophisticated real time communications software.

Although WebRTC is a great technology, it is missing pieces that would make it even more useful.  For example, WebRTC is not supported by all browsers (IE 10- and Safari 6- will never natively support WebRTC), and WebRTC by definition does not support native iOS and Android applications. There are also other essential features required to deploy WebRTC in the enterprise like infrastructure and supporting multiparty calls, firewall traversal, connection initiation, and analytics.

AddLive takes care of these issues so that our customers can focus on what they do best, developing great products.

What can developers do with AddLive?

The AddLive suite of APIs, SDKs and tools allow companies to easily add real time functionality to existing applications making them more powerful and helpful to their users.

In general our community of application developers operate in 5 verticals:

  1. Learning – teaching via live video classes
  2. Enterprise collaboration – typically deploying video and voice in a product aimed at the enterprise
  3. Health – both physical and mental health treatment via video
  4. Games – this is a new vertical for us and includes games like live video poker
  5. Social & dating – social websites wanting to enable video communications among their users

We also have customers that are not contained in the above verticals. For example we have a customer creating a remote conference application that allows conferences to bring in a guest speaker over video. It contains a suite of production tools, which make it far more sophisticated than just ‘Skyping in’ the speaker.

AddLive screenshot

You offer a desktop client as well. Why is that?

A number of our customers develop desktop apps. Having a persistent desktop app rather than a web app, increases ‘presence coverage’ and is one of the primary reasons of Skype’s success. This is of particular importance to our clients operating in the Enterprise Collaboration vertical.

Which protocol did you use for signaling on the client side?

We are currently using a proprietary signaling protocol.

What are you using on the backend?

The infrastructure is shared between Softlayer and Amazon, with most streaming done on the Softlayer backbone.

Who do you see as a competitor? Is it service providers offering MCU services such as BlueJeans and Vidtel or is it more API vendors like Twilio and Voxeo?

We are a developer platform and thus BlueJeans, and Vidtel are not our direct competitors. However, our clients do compete with them in certain instances and thus by proxy we do compete on a technology level.

We do not compete directly with Twilio or Voxeo either. They offer traditional PSTN functionality around voice and SMS, and are now including WebRTC audio endpoints. We focus solely on over-the-top video and voice and do not touch the carriers’ phone networks.

How would you define the experience of working with WebRTC? What worked and what didn’t?

WebRTC is a great technology but it is still in its infancy and so is in a constant state of flux. A major problem is the non-agreement on the mandatory to implement video codec. The browser vendors and other major players are quite evenly split between VP8 and H.264. It is not clear which one will prevail.

What would you change in WebRTC given the opportunity?

Our CTO, Ted Kozak, wrote an Open Letter to the WebRTC Committees a while back. What we would like to see is agreement from all browser vendors on both the APIs and the mandatory video codec.

What’s next for AddLive?

We are releasing our iOS video SDK very soon. This has been the single biggest request from our customers. If any of the readers want to try it before we release it publically, you can email me [email protected]

The interviews are intended to give different viewpoints than my own – you can read more WebRTC interviews.

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