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Despite odds, Influxis streaming nicely

High school friends start company during dot-com bust, now thriving internationally

Posted: August 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Influxis CEO Richard Blakely, left, and CTO Jerry Chabolla at their Valencia office on July 20.

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Richard Blakely and Jerry Chabolla, friends, founders and owners of local technology company Influxis, moved their company to Santa Clarita from Hollywood in 2007.

Building cutting-edge interactive streaming projects for national advertising agencies and top brands like Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Toyota, Sony, Domino’s Pizza, National Geographic and Proctor & Gamble, the two entrepreneurs first set up their company in 2001.

They call themselves the “streaming experts” and say they’ve landed major clients because Influxis can accomplish what everyone else says is impossible, said CEO Blakely.

“We’re known for coming up with the most creatively challenging solutions for streaming video and audio,” he said.

Companies and creative digital advertising agencies have sought out the company’s expertise when a project was ready to collapse, both entrepreneurs said. But Influxis has pulled off the impossible over and over again, Blakely said.

“Over the years our reputation has really served us well,” he said. “We work on a lot of different campaigns with different companies that are always trying to top each other.”

Providing business-to-business server, network and support services for companies who want to utilize streaming technologies, Influxis works “obsessively close” with its customers to help them pull off extremely creative challenges, said Chief Technology Officer Chabolla.

But cutting edge projects are helping to build the Influxis reputation even more.

Remote interaction

Influxis helped develop the first-ever online event where people were able to drive a real Mitsubishi Outlander SUV online via Web-control, using the keyboard, ensuring that there was no perceived delay in driving the vehicle, the men said.

“One of our favorite clients is Yamaha,” Blakely said. “We had a real piano in a museum that you can play remotely through our servers and network.”

Featured at the 2011 Newport Music Festival, Jeff Hawley, director, customer experience group, for the Yamaha Corp. said in a testimonial that “Influxis has been a wonderful partner and as Yamaha continues to push the tech boundaries, they always jump to the occasion and help us make it happen.”

“We can work with your developers or can build it for them,” Chabolla said.

Influxis, however, was built by the founders spending their last dollar.

School friends

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, the pair moved themselves and their company to Santa Clarita.

“We were good friends since high school,” Blakely said. “I was into graphic design and programming and Jerry was into animation and drawing.”

In high school the two had thought of starting a computer-based programming and graphic design print shop, but their other jobs got in the way of realizing that dream.

Not long after, however, the two came together to start an Internet-based company.

“Jerry was on board and helped with all the design graphics and animation we needed,” Blakely said.

The pair started their company without any financing right as the dot-com bubble burst — and no one wanted to invest in an Internet company in 2001, the men said. The original business concept failed and the two started taking on Web design projects to support themselves.

“But we hated not having recurring income, working project to project and eating one month and starving the next,” Blakely said.

Researching hot new technologies, the two young men discovered pretty much no one else was developing streaming and collaboration at the time.

Blakely and Chabolla became obsessed with the concept of a “connected Web” where everyone using the Internet could see everyone else using it at the same time; similar to how a Webinar operates, but with more sophisticated options. And they found the tool that allowed them to design their masterpiece, Adobe Media Server.

“Richard invested all of our money into the software,” said Chabolla. “He said, ‘If this doesn’t work, we’ll have to go get regular jobs.’ Fast forward 10 years later and we’re still here.”

Global growth

In 2007 people were just starting to care about streaming, Chabolla said. Already positioned to serve the market, Influxis grew quickly on that technology wave.

Privately held, Influxis has some 3,000 customers today and the business partners say most of their business is from repeat customers. The company helps two types of clients — monthly customers and short-term, campaign-based clients.

About 65 percent, of the company’s business is in the U.S. and 35 percent is international, primarily in Europe, Latin America and Asia, Blakely said.

“We got a really great office space in the Valencia Industrial Center, have 30 employees, an operations and call center in one office and another office for development,” Blakely said.

In all they like the SCV.

“Most all of the people are local,” Chabolla said. “When we moved here from Hollywood there were only four of us but then we grew so scarily fast.”



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