x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Video content firm eyes Middle East expansion

KIT Digital, whose global client base includes the likes of The Associated Press, Disney-ABC, FedEx, Vodafone and Google is on a recruitment drive in the Middle East.

The NASDAQ-listed technology company KIT Digital is on a recruitment drive in the Middle East as it looks to double its revenues in the region.

The company, which provides software for the delivery of video content over the internet, mobile and internet protocol TV, is also considering local acquisitions and partnerships.

"The region is probably less than 1 or 2 per cent of the total revenues, so it's certainly an area we'd like to grow more," said Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, the chief executive of KIT Digital.

"If today you see that there's a million dollar's worth [of business in the Middle East] … I'd love that to be five or 10 over the next couple of years. We'd really like to see the region become part of the pie chart you can see without squinting."

Mr Tuzman said there were opportunities in the Middle East with media companies and other corporations.

"With Etisalat we've just started doing some work," he said. "We also do some work with MBC [and] with Vodafone in a couple of different countries in the region."

KIT Digital's global client base includes The Associated Press, Disney-ABC, FedEx, General Motors, Google, Verizon and Vodafone.

"About half of our business is actually with corporations, of using video for communications, merchandising and marketing," said Mr Tuzman.

The company moved its headquarters to Prague from Dubai a year and a half ago because of the cost of data connections and bureaucracy, he said.

"There were certain things that were too technical and bureaucratic here," Mr Tuzman said. "The biggest point was the cost of connectivity.

"For us to set up data centres [in Dubai involved] costs that were two, three, even four or five times what we would pay with a data hub in Athens or Prague or Amsterdam … it's an inhibitor to a lot of technology companies here."

Mr Tuzman confirmed the group was hiring in the region, and had also considered local acquisition targets.

"I think we would also consider acquisitions or partnerships in the region," he said. "But these comments I was making about bureaucracy and cost of basic service provision are top of the mind when we are expanding in the region, because everyone has choices.

"We have, over time, had conversations with a couple of groups here. We haven't decided to make any moves yet."

Mr Tuzman was speaking on the sidelines of a conference on entrepreneurship, which was held by Stanton Chase International.

The businessman is also the managing partner of KCP Capital and previously served as a US trade representative under the former presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush.

bflanagan@thenational.ae