Telemetry: Anthony Rushton, Russell Irwin and Beau Chesluk
Emmy Award winner Telemetry on becoming the first British billion dollar tech business
Until the UK produces a Google or a Facebook, the argument goes, our tech scene will inevitably be a poor relation of the mighty Silicon Valley. No surprise then that there’s many people trying to find this giant-killer; but could it turn out to be a company most of us have never heard of?
Perhaps. Telemetry’s aim of bringing advertisers clarity in the murky world of online video looks to be putting it on course to become the UK’s first billion dollar valued technology business.
A recent external evaluation revealed that just two years after launching, Telemetry is worth around £160m, and that within the next three to four years it could hit the billion dollar mark. What is even more remarkable is that, so far, all growth has been organic and achieved without the need for any venture capital.
Founded by former video producers Anthony Rushton, Russell Irwin and Beau Chesluk, Telemetry provides an auditing service for online video advertisers, helping to create greater transparency and eliminate discrepancies.
Unlike other media companies, which just provide a tracking code to be embedded in the video, Telemetry delivers the whole package. “We physically deliver, edit and audit the online video in way that is bespoke to the client,” says Rushton.
The verification system itself took three years of hard graft to build and requires constant maintenance in the form of a highly skilled team of engineers. “It’s an ever-changing facility,” notes Rushton, “but we now have the capacity to deliver billions and billions of interactive clips anywhere in the world”.
Telemetry is projecting a turnover of £24m this year – achieved with no outside investment and next to no PR, having been so far, according to Rushton, “very quiet as a business”.
But the focus on advertising wasn’t where the founders started. In fact, they had seen considerable success in creating online video, including building the online versions of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and Bullseye, and even scooped an Emmy Award in 2008 for We Dig TV, the world’s first interactive TV station.
“We decided we couldn’t be any better at online video and Patriot Saint [the trio’s nickname for Telemetry] was niggling away, so we thought ‘let’s hide behind the Emmy and present it to a couple of companies’,” says Rushton.
Telemetry’s first big break was in securing the global consumer goods firm Reckitt Benckiser as a client, off the back of some previous production work. The company currently delivers and measures the performance of Reckitt Benckiser’s online video advertising in 29 countries. Another recent addition to the Telemetry portfolio is Budweiser, which was signed as a client in March 2011.
Most clients come through referrals, and are attracted by the system which makes it possible to track and analyse every penny spent and obtain accurate and detailed analytics on the performance on the advertising campaign.
“If you move your entire TV budget of around £1bn and put it online, which is feasible, you going to haemorrhage cash as no one knows how to count it, where it goes or what to do with it. It’s an incredibly new market.”
Another reason Telemetry is attractive to clients is that is doesn’t form partnerships with media agencies and owners as “that would severely undermine our claim to be independent,” says Rushton.
With no real competitors as yet, it appears that Telemetry is well positioned to become the Google or Amazon of online verification. “We would love for a British company to achieve what American companies have achieved online,” says Rushton.
He admits the company may need an equity injection to achieve this and the company is considering bringing in its first outside investment. “We are already talking to people about an equity sale…organic growth is less appealing as we’ve been doing it for so long”.
“Psychologically, financially and economically, we have a reached a point in the business where we have to either bring money in, or raise facility to grow as aggressively as we want to.
“We could sit back and trundle through the next three years and continue to grow, but we wouldn’t be the business that we want to be.”