October 2, 2011

The RadLight story

Back in 1999 two things with quite a significant impact on my life happend.

It all started when a high school student from Norway managed to break the copy protection mechanism of DVDs (DeCSS). A few months later, another hacker who went by the nickname Gej released DivX ;-) 3.11 alpha codec. Basically, this was just a hacked Microsoft MPEG-4 with AVI support and no artificial limit on video resolution.

These two things made it possible for anyone to get a DVD quality movie which would fit on a single CD.

And while the author of DeCSS had to deal with some long and nasty lawsuits, Gej didn't hesitate, moved to San Francisco and co-founded a company in early 2000. But that's a whole another story (still very interesting, though).

What you probably do not know is that at the same time another startup was founded, here in Slovakia. Actually, I found out it was a "startup" only recently ;-) One saturday morning me and my schoolmate said to ourselvse that it's nice we don't have to watch movies in ASF and resolution of 320x240, but it might be even better to be able to watch them in something more advanced than Windows Media Player 6.4, which didn't even support subtitles. This is pretty much how RadLight got started.

Back in the days we had more than 10 000 000 downloads of RadLight from all over the world and a healthy cash flow. Obviously, we didn't have such a large userbase here in Slovakia. Some people didn't even believe us RadLight was made in Slovakia :)

We accomplished all of this without any external funding and other things which are said to be necessary to succeed. You may say we just got lucky, or that it was easy with a good timing and an unique idea. Not really. Others were working on the same type of product and most of them were way ahead of us when we first started.

Want to hear something even more entertaining? We didn't plan for any this. The original "business plan" was to sell pirated movies on CDs and as we knew it won't work without supporting subtitles, we decided to code our own player w/subtitles support. We were 15, so please, cut us some slack :)


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