How does dotSub make money? Can I find out if it is profitable?


DotSUB allows anyone to upload videos and provides an interface for subtitling them - to anyone. Looking at the subtitles and their timing of appearance, Khan Academy seems to have crowdsourced subtitling via this website.

Now, this must take massive amounts of bandwidth to support - considering the uploads and streaming it involves. How do they do it? Apparently, there is a Fortune 100 clientile base, and they make money out of these accounts. However, do you think these rare cases can support their operations for the open community and turn a profit? And do you suppose the founder was bleeding money right from the start till the point the first commercial customer walked in? How do I find out this info independently?

Video Investment Profitability

asked May 24 '12 at 05:02
Aditya Menon
112 points
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1 Answer


As a privately-held company, your only options are public or proprietary databases to access "non-confidential" information. Sites like Crunchbase often include financial information specific to funding rounds. Similarly, corporations (even private corps) often file forms with the SEC that are available for search through EDGAR.

Looking at their management team, they appear quite seasonedin the sense that they may have access to capital through other means than private equity funding when compared to a typicalstartup where the founders and management team are younger and often first-time entrepreneurs.

Depending on your reason for finding out specific financial info, you can always contact the company to conduct an interview. Otherwise, as a private entity, they're not required to disclose any specific information. I'm sure you know this but it's worth mentioning.

Relative to their cost model, it's hard to estimate their profitability today or in the future. Without any reliable data source, running a model based on estimates results in a model that's, well, an estimate. With that said, you could always model the infrastructure costs (storage, bandwidth, etc) to find out what their costs are. For example, a bit of hackingpublic info by way of DNS queries, viewing-source, etc might suggest they leverage a certain cloud hosting provider with a CDN and certain storage network. From that point, you can extrapolate the costs based on different usage levels.

Taking a few steps back, if you're interested in figuring out how/why they're in business, I'd recommend resources such as Techcrunch and Betabeat to study business models and the dark art of valuation. Companies don't need to be cash flow positive (i.e. profitable) to continue operations. As a recent example, take a look at Instagram as well as other acquisitions completed by Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies.


answered May 24 '12 at 17:01
401 points
  • Excellent answer, thank you. Basically, I had a similar idea only to find it was already implemented by dotSUB (mine is slightly different). One thing that was holding me back was the concern of bandwidth costs, and where they can come from. It looked like these guys nailed it, so I was curious. From your answer, what I can gather is they probably have an alternative source of money, and don't mind burning cash if it means popularity... – Aditya Menon 11 years ago

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Video Investment Profitability