Queen’s Awards Winner 2022 for International Trade
Wings over the world as Blackbird flies high with unique technology
Blackbird's CEO Ian McDonough
It might be said that it was only a matter of time before London-based Blackbird plc won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
Afterall it is a company that the world seems increasingly to need and as a consequence is growing rapidly, especially overseas, particularly in America.
In the last year Blackbird has won a raft of awards including a 2021 NAB Show Product of the Year and it was also crowned Best Tech Company 2021 at the SportsPro OTTAwards last November.
Last year it also won the IABM Environmental Sustainability Company of the Year award in recognition of its campaign to reduce dramatically carbon emissions within the video production industry and Blackbird is also a recipient of the London Stock Exchange’s Green Economy Mark in recognition of its work in contributing to the green economy.
And now the most prestigious British business gong of them all. To misquote the Beatles’ song ‘Blackbird’: “We were only waiting for this moment to arise.”
The Queen’s Award Blackbird has won is for international trade and it’s easy to see why. Overseas sales have grown by 314 per cent over three years and now account for more than 70 per cent of total revenues. Sales are concentrated in North America with the region being the world leader in media trends and the adoption of cloud technologies, but the company has also won high profile contracts in Europe, the Middle East and Oceania.
However perhaps Blackbird could also have won an award for Innovation - powering scalable, collaborative production, Blackbird enables instant access to video content for the easy creation of clips, highlights and long form content for rapid content distribution.
Or perhaps even for Sustainability. As the world’s fastest, most powerful professional cloud native video editing and publishing platform Blackbird is a green technology that generates 91 per cent less carbon than competitive video editing platforms.
The CEO is Ian McDonough and that’s a stat of which he is understandably proud: “The video and media industry generally is as polluting as the aviation sector and we believe that technologies like ours can make a huge amount of difference to the carbon footprint if they are used more widely.”
Ian joined the company in 2017, changed its name from ‘Forbidden Technologies’ and turned it from the niche R&D company it had been since its foundation in 1998 into a market leading tech developer, having had encouragement to do so from West Coast US giants like Microsoft, Google and Amazon.
Publicly-listed with a staff of 35, over the last five years it has made huge inroads into widening its customer base landing such stellar names as the NHL, Univision, US State Department, CBS, Sky News Arabia and BT Sport.
Ian said: “It’s a real A list which has bought into the concept of our technology – a professional video editor in a browser - which removes the necessity for heavy duty equipment and huge amounts of bandwidth and storage. Our technology dramatically improves speed, cost efficiency and user experience in the production process.”
There will be no resting on laurels here with Blackbird having started to look at different markets including direct to the consumer. Ian said: “Our core product addresses the professional video space and we have licenced our technology to a global broadcasting equipment manufacturing company which we will soon announce. It will have Powered by Blackbird in the heart of their production suites and that will give us global reach from July this year.
“It will be like turning the lights on having Powered by Blackbird all round the world. We are still the challenger brand but this is one of the routes that will bring scale rapidly.”
As many awards as Blackbird has already won, Ian acknowledges the special nature of a Queen’s Award and how that can take the company to a different level: “We’re very proud to be a British company taking a British technology to the world, one which is doing particularly well in the US and it’s gratifying to receive this recognition from the Queen,” he said.
“It will help us gain awareness both in the UK and across the world and hopefully also help with networking and partnerships and understanding more about what UK trade and industry are doing overseas and being a part of that.”