With IBM, Third Summit wants to power a new production ecosystem

By | 5 minute read | April 22, 2020

In late 2019, Third Summit, a collective of full-stack digital media solutions, officially became an IBM Business Partner. However, its co-founder and CEO, Matt Cimaglia, has a much deeper connection to IBM.

In 1981, from its Boca Raton headquarters, IBM revealed a revolutionary new product: the very first IBM Personal Computer. That same year, just a few miles away, Cimaglia was born.

“IBM was this steady presence in my life growing up in Boca,” Cimaglia says. “When I was about four, my family got our first computer, an IBM PCjr. I remember being awe-struck when we first took it out of the box and I was able to type away at those chunky keys. I was so fascinated by computers that I got my own PC a few years later, and it was also an IBM, a PS/2 with a 286 processor.”

Matt Cimaglia, seated in front of his IBM PS/2, circa 1991.

At an early age, Cimaglia fell in love with computers and video production, winning state-wide awards for his short videos and spending much of his free time experimenting and coding on his IBM at home. And years later, after graduating from film school, he immediately got to work in the industry, setting up his own company, Cimaglia Productions, and contracting with NBC Network News.

Over the next two decades, his company grew significantly. And by the mid-2010s, Cimaglia surveyed the way his company was growing and realized that agility — his company’s ability to evolve with the rapidly changing technological landscape — would be the biggest competitive advantage in the 21st century.

“Technology is always changing what we do — and we have to adapt with it,” he says. “When I started in this business 18 years ago, digital content delivery wasn’t feasible. You’d spend hours uploading highly compressed, postage stamp-sized videos on the fastest connection available, or you’d burn files onto DVDs that you’d either have to mail or courier to share. Now you can download and edit 4K videos on your phone.”

And while the industry transformed, so did his relationship with IBM, shifting from floppy disks and command prompts to cloud solutions and AI.

The quick march of progress

The massive shift in what’s become technologically possible cuts to the heart of what Cimaglia and Third Summit want to address.

Cimaglia’s new company, Third Summit, is an ecosystem of agile companies that collectively help reduce the friction bogging down creative workflows. Its flagship brand, Alteon, comprises three main components:

  • Alteon Community a talent marketplace that uses A.I. to help find the right professional creative for a given job
  • Alteon Cloud, a cloud-based content manager that allows multiple users to simultaneously review and collaborate on the same footage
  • Alteon Pay, a payments processor, tailored for the gig economy, that lets contractors get paid on demand

From concept to execution and post-production, video is an incredibly demanding medium that requires teamwork, investment and strategy. But it’s also increasingly popular, as many social channels pivot toward video ads. This creates a problem for the mainstream marketplace, including small businesses and mid-sized studios or agencies, which want to be competitive in the production landscape but lack the tools to get there.

Cimaglia initiated Third Summit’s partnership with IBM to help make higher-value technology — like AI and cloud — more readily available for those mainstream creators and brands, and not just enterprise corporations. Alteon acts as that conduit.

“Having worked extensively with large studios, I’ve seen the level of IT support they have,” Cimaglia explains. “They have budgets and dedicated IT staff large enough to make it possible to work with these new technologies. But from my own experience, speaking with smaller creators — individual freelancers, mid-sized studios or even in-house brand managers — they simply can’t access that same toolset. It’s too cost-prohibitive to get a unique cloud or A.I. solution. They need a different approach.”

Finding the perfect partner in IBM

When selecting its cloud partner, Cimaglia and the entire Third Summit team immediately recognized that IBM public cloud stood out in the field.

Third Summit’s biggest concern was being able to power Alteon reliably and cost-effectively. The platform required intense flexibility and ironclad security, especially for Alteon Cloud and Alteon Pay.

“For production companies, scale is imperative,” explains Cimaglia. “I am testing a 6K camera now, and for only eight minutes of shot footage, I need a 128GB drive. Even higher definitions like 8K are around the corner, and 5G network speeds are going to unlock a whole new era of speed, size and bandwidth. Relying on ad hoc cloud solutions isn’t going to work in the next few years. We need a better solution that grows with this inevitable technology.”

Adopting IBM public cloud and IBM Aspera, Alteon Cloud will provide users with a scalable content management and delivery solution that can keep pace with increasing file sizes while delivering a cost-effective pricing model. IBM’s Smart Tier pricing and impressive redundancy — the way stored content is automatically dispersed across three regions nationally at no extra cost — was a winning proposition.

“We owe our users the highest level of security and reliability, combined with the lowest possible cost and the greatest flexibility,” Cimaglia says. “It sounded like a huge ask — until we met with the IBM team.”  

Beyond the massive data loads he expects with Alteon Cloud, Cimaglia also notes that Third Summit needs a scalable cloud to host the entire platform, including what will grow into a community of hundreds of thousands of active users uploading, downloading and collaborating at once.

“We’re building a massive community of creatives,” Cimaglia says. “The gig economy is growing rapidly. Millions of professionals are joining the freelance marketplace every year. The future of work will be working remotely. All of this points to the solutions we are building right now. And we know that as we scale up, IBM public cloud will be scaling up right alongside us.”

All this is part of Third Summit’s plan to democratize the unprecedented power of cloud and AI — its goal to create solutions that independent creatives, mainstream brands and small businesses can use, regardless of their technical knowledge.

Or, as Cimaglia puts it, “We’re handling the technology, so creatives can focus on what they love.”