Technology business Velocix, which specialises in digital content delivery over the Internet, is growing massively from a Cambridge UK base.Headcount has almost tripled in two and a half years and the company this week opens a new Cambridge HQ to accommodate further anticipated growth.
Paul Larbey, who as President heads up the Cambridge operation, says another 20 staff could be added in the next six months alone.
The business hasn’t looked back since being acquired by Alcatel-Lucent for between £12m and £15m in July 2009 – an excellent piece of business transacted by Velocix’ then CEO John Lee.
The new parent promised that Cambridge would remain key to the growth of the business going forward but the pace of expansion has exceeded expectations. Larbey described the escalating rate of demand as “incredible.”
Larbey told Business Weekly in an exclusive interview: “We’re officially opening the new HQ – the old Nokia/Symbian building in Milton, Cambridge – on Friday having been there since the end of April. There’s already a fabulous buzz about the place and excitement about the opportunities going forward.
“Two and a half years ago we had 35 people. Now we are up to 103. The beauty is we now have spare capacity, probably for another 70 people, and we should be up to 123 by the end of December.
“We had four different units at Cambridge Science Park, which was far from ideal. Now we have doubled the space available and have consolidated operations under one roof.
“When the requirement from customers is 24/7 and you’re dealing with North America, Asia and Europe within that brief you need to be operating at optimum around the clock and we are doing that.”
The customer portfolio has also ramped up and includes blue chip clients such as Time Warner in the States and TalkTalk in the UK.
Velocix is a content delivery network solutions and services provider to the media, entertainment, software and telco industries. Basically it provides an internet fast lane for digital assets.
The company was first to market a turnkey solution – Velocix Metro – that allows internet and broadband service providers to deploy their own advanced delivery capabilities to ease the passage of bandwidth-hungry multimedia content.
With Velocix, high quality streamed video plays uninterrupted and file downloads complete in a fraction of the time.
The company was spun out from internet consulting business, Saviso in 2002 and was formerly known as CacheLogic.
Paul Larbey, who joined Velocix from Alcatel-Lucent shortly after completion of the acquisition, says there is plenty of headroom for global growth from the Cambridge springboard as people change their multimedia viewing habits and demand soars for different services to be delivered at the same time across companion technologies.
“The bulk of our customers remains in the US which was an early and volume adopter of the technology. IPTV and cable providers in North America have revolutionised delivery of TV and video content on different devices at different times wherever you happen to be when you want to watch something.
“It’s not always possible or practical, for those in multi-person households or on the move, to watch everything on a TV screen. Our technology is being used across a whole range of devices, including iPads and Xbox.
“There are times when individuals want to watch different aspects of certain events. They might want to watch a football match or some other event on their main screen but pull up real-time analysis of major incidents on a companion device.
“And increasingly they want to be chatting to friends about what they are watching or communicating across social networks simultaneously. What America has started others are now emulating.
“North America remains a very exciting market for us and was probably 18 months ahead of Europe. Now we are seeing some major movement in Europe while Asia also represents a huge growth opportunity for Velocix.”
Larbey revealed that Velocix was currently conducting two trials of its technology in India.
The takeover by Alcatel-Lucent delivered a business model that has proved an excellent platform for growth for Velocix. The Cambridge business used to sell direct to consumers but now supplies to service providers, in line with the paradigm that Alcatel-Lucent has always found successful.
The service providers have now become passionate evangelists for the technology. The one-stop research resource provided by the marriage of the businesses also offers an advantage over companies operating R & D across multi sites in Larbey’s view.
“We have the best of both worlds in Cambridge,” says Larbey. “The visions of Velocix and Alcatel-Lucent are aligned. Our parent company is solid and supportive and we can take advantage of their tremendous global reach.
“They are always there for us yet give us a free hand in developing the IP. The benefit is evidenced by our expansion: Even in this tough macro-economic climate we are growing at an incredible rate.”
Velocix is recruiting from far afield, mostly within the UK but also internationally. “It’s impossible to find the top quality of people you require solely within the Cambridge Cluster,” Larbey says. “We set the bar pretty high but we don’t get many people turning down an offer to join us.
“Cambridge remains a globally unique technology cluster and we offer an exciting challenge in a dynamic marketplace.”
Velocix has already won the battle of hearts and minds as it has grown in Cambridge and Friday’s official opening of the new HQ is a case in point.
Customers, suppliers, staff and their families will be attending and the company is taking the opportunity to raise funds for its adopted charity, the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) just along the road in Milton.
EACH supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. This year alone the charity needs to raise more than £5.75 million in public donations to deliver its services – over £15,000 a day, every day of the year.