Microsoft Democratizes Video with Clipchamp Acquisition

Video is perpetually the next big opportunity in SMB marketing. That’s been the case for more than a decade, as startups like Spot Runner and Spotzer democratized the process of creating SMB ad spots. Fast forward to today and tools ranging from Instagram Stories to TikTok provide ways to scratch the SMB video itch.

Now Microsoft has entered the arena with this week’s acquisition of Clipchamp. And it could have an edge over competing efforts to democratize video, given its built-in channel to SMBs and amateur creators everywhere. By bringing video creation into its Office suite, it could also compete with Adobe Creative Cloud.

Speaking of Adobe, it recently made a similar move by buying Frame.io. Though Adobe was already formidable in the video creation marketplace with Premiere, Frame.io buttresses its offerings with more tools. However, it differs from Clipchamp in targeting creative pros. Clipchamp is for individuals and SMBs.

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Design Language 

Going deeper on Clipchamp, its claim to fame is a streamlined web-based video creation and editing tool. This includes the ability to quickly upload and edit videos in a linear editing format — standard design language for video editing. It also features templates for popular outputs such as social videos and stories.

Its flagship Clipchamp Create also features standard video editing fare, such as trimming, cropping, filters, image overlays (e.g., brand logos), and titles/captions. For additional production quality, it offers free stock video and audio libraries to dress up videos, as well as utilities like file compressors and converters

But most of all, Clipchamp’s claim to fame (and draw for Microsoft) is its user-friendly drag & drop interface. As noted above, this is meant to appeal to regular folks who don’t want to tread into the intimidating waters of Final Cut Pro (or even iMovie). In fact, Microsoft says it’s a natural fit for families, schools, and businesses.

Microsoft also states that video has gotten so popular as an online and mobile content format that it’s sort of the “new document.” And we all know Microsoft’s history in democratizing the document as a format for composing and delivering content. It hopes to carry that legacy forward with video as the next form factor.

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Home Turf

The key term above is “web-based.” Given Clipchamp’s orientation as a web app, it fits nicely with Microsoft’s own software delivery architecture — namely Microsoft 365. In addition to heralding its user-friendliness, Microsoft called out this streamlined architecture as a key factor in its decision to buy the company.

Specifically Clipchamp boasts “the simplicity of a web app with the full computing power of a PC with graphics processing unit (GPU) acceleration,” Microsoft said in a statement. That’s a fancy way of saying it can deliver GPU-intensive functions like video editing over the web and on mid-range PCs — Microsoft’s home turf.

Lastly, what about Clipchamp’s market validation (beyond a Microsoft acquisition). It seems to have plenty of that, including 17 million registered users (400k of which are businesses) and 54 percent year-over-year user growth. The firm has also seen 186 percent growth in video export volume in the first half of 2021 alone.

As for acquisition price, Microsoft didn’t disclose figures, but it’s worth noting that Clipchamp has raised about $15 million in funding according to Crunchbase. And timing-wise, Microsoft was similarly tight-lipped about rollout commitments but says that it will share its software integration timeline at a later date.

The only remaining question is if Clipchamp will have to battle Microsoft’s annoying and iconic Clippy for naming rights.

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