Our History

A Commitment to the Art & Science of Online Video

“On some level, every company now is a media company,” according to Gary Kahn, Zeitbyte’s President and Co-Founder. “Every company has a story to tell, and if you’re not telling it, your customers aren’t really understanding who you are.”

That said, we should probably give you a little background about ourselves as well…

Gary and Kevin Brail, Zeitbyte’s Director of Operations and Co-Founder, first met at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1987. After college, they both found themselves in New York City sharing similar career tracks while focusing on developing different skill sets: Kevin focused on project and print/digital production management, beginning at a start-up media company and, post (first) Internet-boom, later working for the likes of Condé Nast Digital, Dow Jones, and Reuters. Meanwhile, Gary likewise started out at an Internet startup, specializing in application and website development, then later transitioned to building and implementing content management systems for enterprise companies like John Wiley & Sons, Condé Nast, and Lehman Brothers.

Gary and Kevin experienced firsthand how both start-ups and corporations handled the rise and fall of the dot.com bubble, tasting the spirit of entrepreneurship and the professionalism of corporate culture. They learned from the inside what did/didn’t work, a keen perspective that helped build the foundation for a new business idea.

By the mid-2000s, Internet video was on the verge of exploding, and Gary and Kevin saw clear opportunities for bridging a gap between technology and filmmaking. At that time, online video was of poor quality, people were barely taking advantage of its benefits, and the bandwidth for streaming to wide audiences didn’t exist. There were people on the traditional video production side doing it, who made great-looking video but didn’t have the tech skills to make it look good online, and there were people on the IT side doing it, who understood the Web but didn’t care about the quality of the production. Neither was getting it right, which is where we came in…

With the online video space exploding, Gary and Kevin set about creating a company that would blend the art of filmmaking with the science of encoding. “We didn’t see any reason why Internet video couldn’t look as good as a broadcast, so we set out to make that happen by getting the best equipment and getting the best people,” said Kevin. The company invested in state-of-the-art equipment and partnered with award-winning filmmakers, endowing Zeitbyte with equal parts systemic efficiency and cinematic excellence. The initial business model focused on encoding, media management, and video players (we’re proud to be on our third player version today), with a gradual transition to video production.

At its inception, Zeitbyte was headquartered in Gary’s dining room. (The company moved to an office in DUMBO in 2007 and eventually relocated in 2009 to more spacious digs in the City’s Flatiron District, an area that’s been dubbed “Silicon Alley” due to its high-volume of Internet and tech companies.) After experimenting with a few names (including Kahntent and Realeyes), they finally settled on Zeitbyte as the company’s moniker. (More on our name here.)

Business blasted off with a high-profile job in which we provided encoding, hosting, and player customization for a video by rapper Ice Cube in conjunction with Cornerstone Promotion in 2006. The video for “Why We Thugs” received more than 1 million views online in the first month; we then provided the same services for Ice Cube’s follow-up release, “Go to Church.” Another popular early project was a star-studded web series for Ileana Douglas entitled “Supermarket of the Stars” (view webisodes on YouTube here).

Our formal entrance into the world of webcasting came in 2007, when we were asked to live stream Heatherette’s Fall 2007 New York Fashion Week (NYFW) runway show to PerezHilton.com. We began establishing ourselves as go-to webcast providers for the fashion industry, and today have more than 200 NYFW shows under our belt (more than 60 of which were for just the week of the Fall 2011 event).

In February 2011, Zeitbyte further grew its capabilities when it acquired Destination Video, a boutique video production specialty firm.

Today, Zeitbyte proudly offers a comprehensive suite of online video services that includes video production, post-production, media management, live streaming, customized video players, hosting/streaming, file conversion services, and video transfers/duplication. We’re regarded as experts in the online video space, and we maintain a commitment to providing exceptional customer service.

Some of Zeitbyte’s clients include Con Edison, The Associated Press, Kenneth Cole, Universal Music Group, Ogilvy PR, UBS, Neiman Marcus, and Michael Kors.

“We’re excited by the current state of the online video space,” said Gary. “TV has an elitist structure, but the Internet democratizes a lot of things, especially in terms of cost. Companies of all sizes now have the tools to market and promote themselves online, both locally and globally. The playing field is more level than ever, and we can give a voice to a lot of people who didn’t have one before.”