IMAX acquires video quality solutions startup Ssimwave in $28.3 million CAD deal

screens (Sssimwave)
Disney, Paramount Global among mutual partners of Ssimwave, IMAX.

Waterloo-based Ssimwave, which offers video quality solutions for media and entertainment companies, has been acquired by IMAX in a $28.3 million CAD ($21 million USD) deal of cash and stock.

The transaction comprises $18.5 million in cash and $2.5 million in stock. It also includes an additional earnout consideration of $4 million.

A spokesperson for Ssimwave told BetaKit that Ssimwave will continue to operate with its current name and branding, now as a subsidiary of IMAX, and will continue to operate independently for the “near term.”

Founded at the University of Waterloo in 2013 by Abdul Rehman (CEO), Kai Zeng (CTO), and Zhou Wang (CSO), Ssimwave uses artificial intelligence (AI) to provide video quality solutions designed to help streaming services assess video quality at scale, minimize quality drop-offs, and reduce distribution expenses as well as video assurance costs.

The move to acquire Ssimwave is part of IMAX’s strategy to deliver the highest quality video images on any screen, as the entertainment group builds its streaming portfolio.

Ssimwave’s video experience automation platform uses APIs to act as a control plane for existing video encoding, processing, and distribution workflows.

Four of the world’s top-ten streaming media companies currently partner with Ssimwave to optimize video, according to the startup. IMAX’s spokesperson said that IMAX shares mutual partners with Ssimwave, including Disney and Paramount Global.

Ssimwave is a two-time Emmy winner, securing the Technology & Engineering Emmy award in 2020 and a Primetime Emmy award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering in 2015.

Ssimwave has raised about $4.8 million in total funding prior to its acquisition, according to IMAX director of global communications Janes Collins She noted that figure is made up of $1.6 million USD in equity and $3.2 million in debt financing.

Ssimwave previously received a $4.2 million investment from FedDev Ontario in 2020. It also took home $40,000 from Communitech’s Rev Demo Day pitch competition in 2017.

RELATED: Steven McCartney joins Ssimwave as president, Communitech hires Greg Barratt as new VP

Ssimwave currently has 39 employees, and all of them are expected to join IMAX. In the near term, IMAX said it will work with Ssimwave to further grow its business and product suite, particularly in international markets. In the long term, IMAX’s technology and post-production teams will work with Ssimwave’s engineers to develop new solutions for delivering IMAX-quality video experiences across platforms globally.

Ssimwave’s integration, according to IMAX, builds on its expansion beyond the big screen and into streaming entertainment. This involves IMAX-exclusive expanded aspect ratio, digitally remastered content, and “signature sound.”

IMAX noted that there are more than 200 IMAX Enhance titles that are available across streaming platforms like Disney+.

This greater emphasis on streaming is part of a wider industry trend that has seen consumers altering their movie consumption habits from the big screen to the living room.

In its second quarter results for this year, IMAX announced that it expects to release 15 local language titles across 50 global markets in the third quarter. The company recorded revenue of $74 million in this period, representing a 45 percent year-over-year increase from last year, which posted $51 million.

IMAX stated that it expects its acquisition of Ssimwave to drive new, recurring revenue, and grow its position as a global leader in entertainment technology.

Featured image from Ssimwave’s website.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a journalism student at Ryerson University and a staff writer for BetaKit. Follow her on Twitter @charlizealcaraz

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