50 Fastest Growing Tech Companies 2017

muvee making all the way

thesiliconreview-terence-swee-ceo-muvee-17In today’s world which is engrossed in social media and all things ‘tech’, decent quality video making is the need of the hour. A pioneer in this field, muvee delivers software which helps anyone make quality content with the lowest learning curve. muvee is a word concocted from the two words ‘music’ and ‘veedeo’ and pronounced ‘miu-vee’. The firm was founded with the singular vision of enabling life’s magical moments to be weaved into professionally produced music videos automatically. The company’s first product created videos paced to the beat of music and it even automatically removes shaky and blur videos, preserves steady shots with faces in them, and then summarize the key scenes in seconds. It has over 25 patents on its methods and concepts, which uses advanced video analytics and signal processing. Today, more than a decade and a half down the line, the company is still laser focused on this mission, albeit with a much larger portfolio of technologies and products. Since 2015, it has been applying Artificial Intelligence to video editing and storytelling. AI is used to summarize videos and choose the best shots or photos for any final content, be it a 7-sec Instagram video, a 30sec Facebook ad, or a 50 page photobook. Today, its technologies are embedded in over 500 million mobile phones globally through phone companies like LG, Samsung, HTC, Alcatel and Motorola.

In 2001, when the world was just beginning to understand the potential of the World Wide Web and HTML, muvee stunned the world with its fully automatic video editing software named muvee auto Producer. It created professional looking music videos so quickly that in its first version, they had to put a delay timer just so it looks like they were doing something more! This proved to be revolutionary in nature and in no time it scored cover page mentions in many trade press and awards. In less than a year the company licensed its engine as an SDK (Software Development Kit) to other video editing software and launched its first consumer version in 6 languages. In fact it was still housed in a government-funded software research institute (what we would call an Incubator these days) when it closed its first $300,000 licensing deal, so it had to quickly incorporate the company just so it can invoice its first customer!  As it was just after the first dot-com crash, fund-raising was difficult, but the founders persevered and eventually got two term-sheets in a week (but only after pitching in vain to 87 VCs).

In the next couple of years, there was a massive growth surge, and they launched new versions which give users more control over the automatic process. Product distribution expanded globally when it was republished in Italy, France, Germany, UK, Spain and Japan and available online in 16 languages. It went on to be preinstalled with PCs by Dell, HP and Compaq, cameras and camcorders by Sony, Nikon and Olympus and retail stores all over Europe, Japan and the USA.

In 2005 muvee was incorporated into the OS of the Nokia 7610, the world’s first phone with a video camera; and with this, muvee accidentally became the world’s first video app company. All this even before the word ‘app’ was in our lexicon!

Over the years, the company has advanced its technologies but not before it inspired and spawned a whole plethora of me-too products. Today, a template-based automatic editing feature is standard in any video editing product, and not many know that it was invented by muvee in Singapore way back in 1999 when the first proof of concept was shown.

Over the years, the company grew quickly to include a dedicated mobile and R&D team in its Singapore HQ, with additional members in San Francisco, South Asia, Jakarta, Tokyo, Seoul and Shenzhen. Even with the mushrooming of startups all around, muvee continued to attract the very best talent globally in design and imaging-video related fields to move to Singapore to work with its multi-talented team. In Singapore alone, the team comes from 12 different countries. It helps that Singapore was recently voted the third richest country in the world, best city for expats and also unfortunately, one of the most expensive cities in the world. But being situated strategically between India, China and Silicon Valley, Singapore is a modern-day camel-stop for tech talent crossing the world between the 3 power houses of tech talent and markets. These days, muvee’s products can create anything from a 5 sec Instagram funny video and AR Selfies to AI-driven Photobooks, 360 and VR movies. Mobile development accounts for over 70% of the firm’s business and the energy and pace of innovation is unrelentless at muvee HQ.

Milestone achieved

muvee is always looking ahead of the curve; creating, inventing, and dabbling around, but always having fun at the same time. It was dabbling with video editing on mobile as early as 2005 (12 years ago!) and more recently, one of the firsts to showcase AR and 360 editing on mobile. It is also one of the first to use Machine Learning and AI to curate photos and summarize videos. muvee is today the go-to company of choice for android phone manufacturers seeking to differentiate their multimedia experience from their competitors. Whether it’s to squeeze better performance from the camera in their budget range, or to showcase bleeding edge AI/AR/VR technologies in their flagship products, muvee provides many of the underlying technologies to enable the software teams of handset makers implement and ship magical experiences in ever shortening and punishing product cycles.

More to accomplish

In the near future the firm will be launching an automatic drone video editor which will analyze the telemetry data of consumer drones and use that to predict and choose interesting parts of flight videos automatically. This will be the world’s first video editor based on telemetry analysis. The firm also recently released a 360 video editor on the Mac to capitalize on the popularity of this immersive medium by users of 360 cameras like the Samsung Gear 360, the Nikon Mission 360 and Kodak Pixpro.

Here is what the CEO of the firm, Terence Swee had to say about innovation, the basis of advancement, in the workplace.

How often do you innovate?

Innovation is necessary only when it is. We are always asking: what do users need to achieve the vision we have? How do we tell their story with minimum clicks? We ask questions like: Why? How? So what if we can? Only then, we find the technology to enable such a solution. If there is none, we invent it, if the technology is available; we put them together quickly and craft the product. We don’t wake up saying “let’s innovate today!” We wake up each morning asking: What? Why? How? The innovation and technology creation naturally flows. Sometimes it is disruptive, many times it is evolutionary. Luckily we are around long enough to know when to disrupt, and have the maturity and patience to evolve a product.

As you rub shoulders with innovation, how do your employees contribute?

We work like a jazz band: every single employee has an opportunity to do a solo and shine, but as a tight-knit team, we hit the important crescendos and jabs in perfect unison and with the full chorus of our combined energies. Our product is always a heady mix of innovation, beauty and raw power. This has resulted in many world-firsts: the first automatic video editor (2001), first mobile phone video app (2004), first video editor on a camera (2005), first cloud video editor (2007), and more recently, the first automatic drone video editor (2016).

Man behind the success

The Founder and CEO of the company, Terence Swee has a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering and has published many papers globally and co-authored one patent. He plays pretty wicked jazz piano, flies over 200,000 miles a year negotiating million dollar deals, interspersed with volcano climbing and is doing his 3rd Ironman triathlon this year. All of this while driving the company to greater heights of glory and achievement (and occasionally crashing a drone or three).

“If there are moments worth capturing, then a story is waiting to be told.”