Techopia Live: FileCatalyst co-founder goes from computer science degree to Emmy award

An “explosion” in the size of video files and changes in the way we host data have reinvigorated an Ottawa tech company’s file transfer specialties.

FileCatalyst co-founder Chris Bailey dropped by Techopia Live to talk about how evolving demands for transferring files in the broadcast industry has kept the 17-year-old firm ticking.

Bailey says that FileCatalyst, founded in 2000, has been a pioneer in the accelerated file transfer technologies that are standard in film and broadcast today. In fact, the firm won an Emmy a few years back for its file movement solution.

“It wasn’t one of those things that you go into computer science in university and expect to win an Emmy award. We were in shock and awe when we won that,” he told Techopia Live.

How the firm does this is complicated – Bailey himself says he doesn’t like confounding people with “technobabble” – but its solution speeds up data transfers over the internet, without needing to wait for data sent early on to be received.

“If you have a large amount of data to move, if you can move a lot of things concurrently, as opposed to waiting for acknowledgements, then that makes things a lot faster,” he explained.

That’s increasingly important today, for a few reasons. One is simple: 4K video has drastically redefined the industry’s demands.

“Video files are just exploding in size,” Bailey said.

There’s also been an increased need for transfers in recent years as clients move data from on-premise servers to the cloud. FileCatalyst has found success in recent years by being able to handle bigger files and meeting these migration needs.

Changes in the industry present challenges, as well. While the rise of software-as-a-service models has been a boon for some, FileCatalyst is often tapped for jobs that last just a few months at a time, which does not bode well for recurring revenue. Bailey says the firm is hoping to shift to a “pay per GB” model, similar to what you might see on your mobile data bill, to address these issues.