Monday, November 28, 2005

Interview with Phil Leigh

Last week Kirk Feathers our CTO and President got a chance to talk with Phil Leigh about himself, Wurld Media, and Peer Impact. Before this interview I had never heard of Phil Leigh, but from what I can tell he is getting major companies and their executives to sit down and talk with him. He’s like the David Letterman or Jay Leno for Internet talk shows.

The Interview is a half hour long and starts out by talking about Kirk’s background. It then leads into a little history of the Wurld, and end with a conversation about Peer Impact and how it compares to BitTorrent. What I think is important to get out of this interview with Phil Leigh(and I will go into more detail about them later) are two things – 1) peer-2-peer is not a “four” letter word any more and major companies are seriously considering using them as a means to deliver digital content to viewers. 2) Peer Impact and its technology are both a pioneer and leader in peer-2-peer content distribution space.

In the last month or two we have seen some major companies announce they are going to use peer-2-peer technology to distribute their content to viewers. Both BBC and AOL/Time Warner have announced new services that will use peer-2-peer technologies to distribute video content to their viewers. BBC will give their viewers the chance to catch up on TV and radio programs they may have missed for up to seven days after they have been broadcast and AOL/Time Warner will give their views the ability to download classic TV shows through a new service called In2TV. BitTorrent came to an agreement with the MPAA in which will filter out pirated content links to torrent files from its search engine. And this is just the beginning of companies that are willing to put all the negativity that has plague peer-2-peer for the last 5 years a side and give technology companies like Wurld Media(Peer Impact) a chance to prove that there are legitimate uses for peer-2-peer software.

The first generation of the peer-2-peer content distribution technology that is used in Peer Impact was conceived in late 2000 by Jamie Addessi. Jamie built an application that would organize computers that were downloading the same file and utilize their unused bandwidth to distribute the file which yielded extremely fast speeds with only one peer having the entire file. This is the same technology that has made BitTorrent the most popular method for distributing large file to many people simultaneously. People have estimated that BitTorrent can account for somewhere around 30% of the Internet’s traffic. After building the application Jamie filed for a patent that covers how the technology organizes computers together and how it routes data between peers. In 2001 the technology was used to transfer legal bootlegs of live shows for the FurthurNet community. The FurthurNet application used a slightly modified version of Gnutella for searching the network and the above transport technology to transfer shows between peers out of band. Jamie and I left FurthurNet and started a new company called LX Systems with the guidance of its parent company Wurld Media. It was under this company where the second generation of this technology was developed. LX Systems was formed to be a R&D company to take the first generation technology to the next level and for over the next year and half the technology was re-architected and re-written to be smarter and faster then its predecessor. In April of 2002 the second generation was ready for “prime time” and it was used by the United States Army to distribute their PC video game call America's Army. The America's Army game was one of most popular video games at the time and still is today which really pushed our technology to its limits. With the release of their 2.0 version of the game we saw thousands of people download the game from us which saved the Army over 75% of the bandwidth and resources needed to deliver the game as opposed to using traditional distribution technologies such as HTTP or FTP. The third generation of this technology was then developed over the last year and half and is used in Peer Impact. This generation included some more “file sharing” concepts and “node awareness” algorithms to make transfers over the Internet more efficient and faster.

In summary peer-2-peer content distribution technologies are finally being taken seriously and Peer Impact is a pioneer and a leader in that space. There are other companies such as Kontiki, BitTorrent, and Red Swoosh that have developed similar technologies as us, but with our technology being more advanced, combine with relationships that we have already formed, and new relationships forming everyday we believe to have the advantage over our competition.

MP3 download location of the interview:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good stuff Bickster(although that part right after '30% of internet traffic' is a bit confusing - I had to go back and re-read to make sure you were talking about Jamie and not Brahm). That being said, any word on the patent?? I would imagine that such would be tops on the priority list given recent developments in the p2p landscape - or does it not really matter? Also, what are your ideas on p2p integration with gaming systems such as the new xbox live?? It seems like you guys are really onto something (especially given the defensive tone of cuban's post) - anyways, good luck and thanks for posting more often now - I certainly dig the reads

8:45 PM  

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