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Startup Brings Vision to Video Cloud’s ‘Blind Spot’

Claiming to bring vision to the video cloud’s “blind spot,” a vet from the premium OTT world is heading up Wicket Labs, a Seattle-based startup that will help its partners keep close tabs on what, it says, are “mission-critical” APIs.

Without proper monitoring, frequent changes in those third-party APIs can cause outages and other impairments for premium video applications, including TV Everywhere offerings and various direct-to-consumer apps and services, explained Wicket Labs CEO and co-founder Marty Roberts, who most recently was co-CEO of thePlatform, the online video publishing company that Comcast acquired in 2006, and is also late of RealNetworks.

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To address that issue, the startup has introduced the Wicket Scorecard, a service that keeps a close eye on ever-shifting third-party APIs that can impair an OTT service’s operations. He said API tracking can give partners a new level of visibility and enable them to more rapidly pinpoint API-related issues as they emerge.

Roberts said he and his team started to validate the idea by talking to several customers of thePlatform, noting that many have become increasingly reliant on cloud-based APIs but don’t’ have the personnel set up or their own monitoring systems to keep tabs on them, thus putting a heavier reliance on their vendors to handle many of those quality assurance aspects of their online video business.

Wicket Labs, he said, has built a core system that can call into these APIs and authenticate against them, or even validate them against a test environment prior to deployment.

The Wicket Scorecard uses a web and mobile user interface (UI) and alerts partners to the status of their Wickets based on three general categories: Good Wickets (shows a vendor’s API history and performance over time, including the number of times the API has entered a problem state); Notable Wickets (explain changes to an API that is not expected to cause an immediate or meaningful impact to the user experience); and Problem Wickets (details the issue and changes impacting the consumer experience and are presented for a timely escalation to the vendor) Problems in that latter category typically include outages, 500 or 503 errors, and “brown outs,” which can be attributed, for example, to an intermittent data error or a slow response time.  

Wicket Labs has not announced any individual partners, but Roberts said trials are underway and that the company’s initial group of targets includes premium video programmers, including broadcasters, cable operators or pure OTT providers.

“All of these companies have become increasingly dependent on cloud-based APIs, he said.

Starting today, Wicket Labs is offering free “friendly” summary account for up to three wickets before moving to a “Club” tier for five Wickets that costs $500 per month. A higher-end “League” tier is more variable in terms of the number of monitored Wickets are made available to the client.

Wicket Labs is currently privately funded, but could look to raise a formal “A” investment round next spring, Roberts said.

Other co-founders include VP of products Eric Knutson, formerly of RealNetworks and Rhapsody; and VP of software development Larry Hitchon, an exec who is late of Amazon, Front Desk, AppFog, and The Top Agent Network.