Initiation Report: Runway - Reshaping Multimedia Production with Generative AI
December 21, 2023
The video content industry is well poised for an evolutionary leap. The report focuses on Runway, a cutting-edge generative AI platform redefining the norms of video creation and editing. Recognized for its cost-effectiveness and time efficiency, Runway’s tools are rapidly becoming the go-to solution in an industry notorious for its tight deadlines and high-pressure demands. Runway’s tools have established a clear advantage over legacy software tools in terms of time and cost efficiency. With over 30 tailored AI tools, Runway has emerged as the quintessential, all-in-one multimedia content creation suite. Runway's well-funded business model and strategic insight, bolstered by backing from Google, Salesforce, and NVIDIA, are clear markers of its growing market influence.
Our views on Runway AI are derived from our rigorous research process, involving proprietary channel checks with users, competitors, and industry experts, and synthesizing publicly available information from the company and other reliable sources.
MarketLeadership in Text-to-Video Market: Runway’s technological prowess, combined with its well-funded business model, a marquee list of clients, its rapid product release cycle, and its ability to swiftly capitalize on market trends, makes it a market leader. Runway’s cost and time efficiency, coupled with competitive pricing, makes Runway an economically attractive option for creators across the spectrum.
Large and growing Addressable Market: Runway operates in the rapidly growing sectors of video content generation, editing, and visual effects, targeting a market set to reach $285 billion in the animation and VFX sector and $ 3.2 billion in video editing and software by 2028. The company is also tapping into the booming creator economy, which is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 17%, showcasing the expansive potential for Runway’s services.
DiversifiedProduct Portfolio and Augmented Offerings to Ensure Massive Adoption: With over 30 “AI Magic Tools,” RunwayML caters to a broad spectrum of creative needs, enhancing its attractiveness to a wide range of users from individual creators to large enterprises. Additionally, augmented services such as RunwayStudios, AI film festival, and Runway Academy attract potential customers and cement credibility.
StrategicBacking and Industry Partnerships: The company’s backing by prominent VCs and strategic investors, combined with its use by acclaimed clients in the creative industry, validates its market position and growth potential. Key partners include Google Cloud, Canva, and Getty Images.
Key Risks- Unethical Use of the Platform and Commoditization of Models: Concerns around copyrights, deep fakes, bias, misinformation, and harmful content can hamper the growth of the company. Additionally, as AI technology becomes more ubiquitous and accessible, commoditization could be a significant limiting factor to growth and profitability.
Valuation At $1.5B: Runway’s last post-money valuation was $1.5 billion as of May 2023 which was a significant 200% jump from $500 million just five months earlier.
In an era where video content is increasingly becoming the dominant medium of digital expression, Runway is poised to revolutionize this landscape much like the camera transformed visual storytelling. Just as the camera ushered in a new era of creativity and communication, Runway’s advanced AI-driven tools are set to redefine video content creation in a world where everyone has the potential to be a creator. As a company developing foundational technology, Runway is actively shaping the market with the potential to create entirely new categories within video content. The company represents a prime investment opportunity given its strategic position at the confluence of video creation, editing, and visual effects, all of which are multi-billion-dollar software markets. Its leadership in AI video generation technology, coupled with a comprehensive suite of over 30 “AI Magic Tools,” caters to a diverse range of creative processes, appealing to both individual creators and large enterprises. This appeal is mirrored in its clientele which includes companies such as New Balance, Microsoft, Vox, Google, and Nvidia. The presence of such prominent organizations on Runway’s client list underscores the platform’s capability to serve the creative and technological needs of global brands, tech giants, and design firms. The company’s rapid user acquisition, conversion to paying customers, and strategic backing by industry leaders underscore its strong market position and growth potential. As the demand for video content continues to surge globally, Runway’s mission to democratize AI for all creators positions it to revolutionize the industry, potentially ushering in a new era of video content creation.
Established in 2018, Runway stands as a premier generative AI platform exclusively dedicated to video creation and editing at a fraction of the cost compared to conventional methods. Boasting an extensive array of over 30 AI tools tailored for editing, it serves as the definitive all-in-one solution for multimedia content creators. Runway presents an innovative solution enabling individuals and businesses to create and edit high-quality videos cost-effectively. Leveraging an early mover advantage in text-to-video technology, Runways strategically positions its offerings at the convergence of the digital video content creation market, video editing market, and animation and VFX market. With revenue surpassing $1 million in 2022, the startup firmly establishes its financial prowess.
Runway boasts an impressive roster of esteemed clients, showcasing the platform's wide-reaching impact across diverse industries. Key clients include NewBalance, Microsoft, Vox, Google, and Nvidia, each a leader in their respective fields. The presence of such prominent organizations on Runway's client list underscores the platform's capability to serve the creative and technological needs of global brands, tech giants, and design firms like Pentagram. This prestigious clientele not only reflects the trust in Runway's AI tools for enhancing creative workflows but also signals the platform's versatility and effectiveness in addressing the complex demands of various creative and business environments.
Runway offers a tiered pricing structure designed to suit a wide range of needs, from individual creators to large enterprises. The Basic plan, “Free Forever,” is geared towards individuals new to Runway’s AI Magic Tools, offering limited credits and project capabilities. The “Standard” plan, popular among individuals and teams seeking more access and features, is priced at $15 per user per month, with a generous increase in credits, the ability to upscale resolution, and the training of custom AI generators.
For larger teams and companies, the “Pro” plan at $35 per user per month provides even more credits and assets, supporting a larger number of editors and high-resolution video exports. The “Unlimited” plan, at $95 per user per month, caters to professionals needing unrestricted video generation and additional credits.
Lastly, the “Enterprise” plan offers customized solutions, including model customizations, advanced security, and dedicated support, with pricing and details available upon contact res that Runway’s innovative tools are accessible at varying levels of commitment and scales of operation.
Key Investment Positives
Large and GrowingAddressable Market to Fuel Growth
The so-called ‘creator economy’, already a flourishing $250 billion global industry, is anticipated to continue its meteoric rise, with projections from Goldman Sachs Research suggesting a potential doubling to $480 billion by 2027. This explosive growth is propelled by individuals cultivating personal brands and commanding vast online audiences—a hallmark of the digital age. Factors such as increased digital media consumption and technological advancements have lowered entry barriers, fueling the expansion of this vibrant ecosystem. The advent of platforms likeTikTok, Instagram and YouTube, which offer an array of content formats, has further catalyzed this growth.
This ascension of content creators signifies a golden opportunity for Runway. Runway, with its suite of advanced video creation and editing tools, is ideally positioned to serve this booming economy, equipping creators with the means to produce content more efficiently and creatively, thus expanding its own addressable market in tandem with the creator economy's explosive growth.
Runway's strategic position in the video content generation, editing, and visual effects sectors is strengthened by the burgeoning growth in video consumption, which has created a surging demand for tools that facilitate rapid video content production. With the digital video content market projected to reach $227 billion by 2028 (per Data Bridge Market Research), and theAnimation and VFX market estimated to grow from $164.29 billion in 2023 to $284.62billion by 2028 (Mordor Intelligence), Runway is tapping into avast, dynamic market. Additionally, the video editing software market is expected to grow from $1.9 billion in 2021 to $3.3 billion by 2030, per Straits Research.
This market expansion is paralleled by an increase in user-generated content (UGC) across online platforms, highlighting a growing segment of non-professional creators who are seeking access to professional editing tools. Runway, with its AI-driven solutions, is perfectly poised to meet this demand, providing both ease of use for amateurs and advanced features for professionals. As more creators look to produce high-quality content quickly and efficiently, Runway’s offerings become increasingly relevant, allowing the company to capitalize on the trend of rising video consumption and the democratization of professional-grade video editing tools.
Technological Leadership and Viral Potential in AI Video Generation
Runway provides a full-stack platform from model research to end-user-facing applications. Runway Research, a key initiative underpinning Runway’s technological leadership, has made significant strides in the generative AI-powered text-to-video domain, showcasing the company’s commitment to pioneering advancements in generative AI.
Collaborating with LMU Munich, Runway Research co-authored the influential paper “High-Resolution Image Synthesis with Latent Diffusion Models,” which catalyzed the development of Latent Diffusion in December 2021 and Stable Diffusion in August 2022. This foundational research paved the way for Runway’s latest innovative offerings: the Gen-1 and Gen-2 video generation models. Launched in March 2023 and early June 2023 respectively, these models represent a quantum leap in video synthesis capabilities. Gen-1 revolutionized video-to-video generation, while Gen-2 expanded the frontier further by enabling the transformation of text, images, and videos into cohesive and high-quality video content. Gen-2 is trained on an internal data set of 240 million images and 6.4 million video clips. Through these technological breakthroughs, Runway Research has not only solidified Runway’s status as a vanguard of AI-driven creative tools but also redefined the landscape of video content creation, positioning Runway at the forefront of the rapidly evolving generative AI sector.
Owing to the strong technological foundation, Runway is able to consistently innovate. The rapid release of new products positions it to capitalize on trends and capture significant market share, mirroring the virality observed in successful tech platforms.
Cost and Time Efficiency Associated with Runway to Attract Customers
Traditional methods of video and image editing demand significant time and resource investment. With deadlines looming and the pressure to maintain high productivity, the advent of AI-driven video editing tools like Runway offers a transformative solution. These advanced systems can streamline the editing process, slashing the time traditionally required by up to 50%, per Deloitte. This efficiency gain is not just a time-saver; it’s an economic game-changer, enabling creators to amplify their output and creativity without inflating budgets, thus heralding a new era of video content creation that is as cost-effective as it is innovative.
RunwayFor instance, traditional VFX services can cost creators anywhere between $1,500 to $2,500 for a brief 30-second promotional piece. In stark contrast, Runway redefines affordability with a free tier for sub-minute videos, and scales up to value-packed standard ($12/month), Pro ($28/month), and unlimited ($76/month) accounts, offering escalating features and capabilities at each level. This pricing spectrum not only broadens access to quality video effects but also aligns with the diverse financial scopes of content creators.
Additionally, Runway reduced editing time for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert from hours to minutes leading to remarkable efficiency gains. Runway’s tools were used for animation, illustration, and static graphics in the show.
Runway tools were also used by Assembly.tv, a post-production studio, for an advertisement video for Pat McGrath Labs, a cosmetics company, bringing the editing time from a few weeks to a few hours.
Proven Market Fit Accelerating Runway's Rapid Expansion
Runway’s robust market fit is evidenced by its swift user growth, pointing to a strong product-market resonance. The company has hundreds of thousands of users, indicating significant market engagement. The platform’s prowess is further highlighted by its role in high-caliber productions like “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and the Oscar-contender “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” Endorsements by industry heavyweights such as CBS, Vox, and Go ay’s indispensability in professional video production, signaling its essential role in the creative industry’s future.
Diverse Product Portfolio and Augmented Offering to Ensure massive Adoption
With over 30 “AI Magic Tools,” RunwayML caters to a broad spectrum of creative needs, enhancing its attractiveness to a wide range of users from individual creators to large enterprises. Additionally, augmented services such as Runway Studios, AI film festival, and Runway Academy attract potential customers and cement credibility.
Runway offers Runway Studios, an entertainment division, serving as a production partner for enterprise clients. The startup also organizes the AI Film Festival, the first dedic oduced in whole or in part by AI. Such initiatives are poised to propel the adoption of Runway’s offerings.
Strategic Backing and Industry Partnerships Cement Credibility
Runway is backed by a diverse and prestigious group of backers including Google, Nvidia, Salesforce Ventures, Amplify Partners, and Lux Capital. This not only brings substantial financial support but also industry expertise, network access, and a track record of nurturing successful technological innovations. Google’s pioneering role in AI, Nvidia’s leadership in GPU technology critical for AI computations, Salesforce Ventures’ expertise in enterprise applications, along with the seasoned investment experience of Amplify Partners and Lux Capital in scaling tech startups, collectively fortify Runway’s strategic positioning. This high-caliber support underscores the company’s potential for groundbreaking advancements in generative AI, whil vote of confidence to potential investors, partners, and customers in the robustness and potential of the company.
Runway’s commanding lead in funding underscores the market’s confidence in its generative AI technology. This capital enables Runway to aggressively pursue research and development, refine its product offerings, and expand its market reach. Being well-capitalized not only accelerates product development and enhancement but also the ability to adapt to market changes and customer needs, solidifying its leadership in the AI-driven creative landscape.
Further, Runway’s partnerships with companies like Getty Images and Canva significantly bolster its position. The deal with Getty Images aims to enhance generative AI content in advertising, media, and Hollywood, addressing copyright concerns by leveraging Getty’s vast content library for AI model training. The partnership targets businesses looking to merge their IP with AI without legal worries and is a significant step towards improving the enterprise adoption of their tools. The integration of Runway’s Gen-2 into Canva through the Magic Media app opens up advanced AI video generation to Canva’s 150 million monthly users, creating a new revenue stream and expanding Runway’s market reach. This strategic collaboration marks a significant step in democratizing AI-driven video content creation.
Key Investment Concerns
Unethical use of the AI Could Erode Customer Trust
The ethical use of AI is a critical factor in maintaining customer trust and securing the longevity of a company like Runway. However, Runway recognizes that the distribution of harmful content, even unintentionally, can tarnish its brand and the trust users place in it. Such risks are mitigated by Runway’s strategy to augment human oversight with AI, ensuring content aligns with ethical standards and supports brand values. In the shadow of potential data privacy violations, sensitive information disclosure, and the amplification of existing biases, Runway has implemented governance mechanisms to ensure the responsible use of AI. These include strict guidelines and the promotion of a corporate culture that prioritizes ethical considerations in AI usage.
Data provenance is another area of concern; Runway is conscious that the data feeding its AI must be accurately sourced and governed. Runway has partnered with companies like Getty Images and Canva to target businesses that want to combine their intellectual property with an AI engine without fear of copyright lawsuits.
Lastly, the lack of explainability and interpretability in AI systems is a challenge Runway is addressing. Rather than accepting generative AI outputs at face value, the company is dedicated to understanding and explaining the rationale behind AI-generated content, thereby ensuring the trustworthiness of its applications.
Commoditization of Models is a Risk Factor
Runway’s unique “AI Magic Tools,” which simplify complex workflows, currently distinguish it in the market. However, as AI technology proliferates, the exclusivity of such tools may diminish. The cost-effective and efficient nature of Runway’s tools, a major selling point today, might soon be expected as default in video editing and creation software.
A significant factor contributing to this trend is the increasing capability of companies to integrate advanced AI models into their existing software suites. For example, major players in the software industry, like Adobe or Microsoft, could potentially embed AI functionalities akin to Runway’s, especially as they have the resources to rapidly develop or acquire similar technologies. This integration not only democratizes AI tools but also reduces operational costs, challenging Runway’s pricing and market position.
Moreover, advancements in AI technology are enabling these powerful models to be run locally on devices, reducing the need for cloud- based operations. This shift could drastically lower software distribution costs, allowing traditional vendors to offer AI-enabled software at more competitive p ct challenge to Runway’s business model, potentially compressing its margins
and pricing flexibility.
The onset of the generative AI revolution initiated with textual applications, witnessing remarkable strides. Startups like OpenAI, Cohere, and Anthropic secured substantial funding, solidifying their credibility through an early-mover advantage. The evolution continued with text-to-image applications, where startups like OpenAI, Stability.ai, and Midjourney substantiated their credibility. As we transition to the next wave of generative AI applications, focusing on video creation and editing, there is considerable opportunity for emerging startups like Runway to carve out distinctive value propositions.
Generative AI is rapidly becoming a transformative force across various digital modalities. While text modality has already seen significant advancements, the evolution is accelerating into more complex realms such as video, audio, imagery, and 3D design. Companies like Runway, operating at the forefront of this technological wave, are poised to harness these developments, creating sophisticated, AI- generated content that pushes the boundaries of realism and creativity. As generative AI becomes increasingly capable of producing intricate videos, the potential for value capture in these domains is immense. This represents a paradigm shift in ntent production, offering lucrative opportunities for businesses that can integrate these evolving modalities into their offerings.
The inception of the consumer AI revolution was initiated through text-based chatbots. Although these platforms presently hold a prominent position in the consumer AI sector, the extensive integration of generative AI companions with video is poised to propel significant incremental growth. A parallel can be drawn from the extraordinary expansion of the console and PC gaming market, surging from $6 billion in 1975 to $29 billion in 2000. Notably, within this timeframe, the market s spreadsheet games plummeted dramatically from around 60% to a mere 1%, as video based games captured the share.
In a manner akin to the video game industry, the landscape of consumer AI applications is poised for a transformation, transitioning from text-based use cases to encompass immersive audio-visual experiences. Video generation, a multifaceted process, is now hinging on text-driven video production. Video content creation faces relentless pressure to meet escalating project delivery demands, driven by stringent deadlines resulting from the upsurge in VFX-intensive content and the need for swift releases. This challenge is exacerbated by the expanding volume of content released on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, as evidenced by the 449 movies released in the US and Canada in 2022 compared to 334 in 2020, according to Statista. Runway has dramatically reduced editing time leading to remarkable efficiency gains. Prominent post-production house Assembly has also witnessed significant time savings, underscoring the practical impact of Runway’s capabilities. The allure of cost optimization is another driving factor that attracts both customers and investors. Conventional video creation and editing through legacy software is expensive. In contrast, Runway offers an economical range of pricing options. As the demand for swift and cost-effective video content creation continues to surge, text-to-video startups like Runway is poised to become highly valuable startup in the future. These AI-driven platforms will empower businesses to enhance their online presence and expand their reach, from product demonstrations to promotional materials. Content creators will leverage these tools to seamlessly transform text-based content into engaging videos, broadening their audience and impact. Additionally, the entertainment industry is increasingly embracing such platforms for substantial time and cost savings. The text-to-video AI market is projected to reach around $900 million by 2027 at a CAGR 2027, per MarketsandMarkets, further underscoring the vast opportunities within this burgeoning industry.
During a panel interview with Collider, Joe Russo, director of films such as “Avengers: Endgame,” foresees that within the next two years, artificial intelligence will possess the capability to produce a feature ambitious projection reflects the confidence industry experts have in the text-to-video platforms such as Runway.
Runway strategically positions itself at the nexus of the burgeoning $197 billion global digital video content market, the $179.8 billion ani- mation and VFX market, and the $2.4 billion video editing software market projected for 2024. With an escalating influx of creators con- tributing user-generated content (UGC) to online platforms, Runway is poised to leverage the surging demand among non-professionals for access to professional-grade editing software. UGC constitutes 39% of American content consumption, surging to 56% for teens, while a LinkTree study indicates that 207 million global professional creators derive income from digital content production. Over 45% of these creators identify as full-time content creators. The expanding long-tail of content creators, coupled with the escalating appetite for rapid video content production tools in tandem with the growth of video consumption, positions Runway for continued market expansion. With these dynamics in mind, we anticipate Runway securing a 0.5-0.7% market share in the digital video content, animation and VFX, and video editing software markets by 2030. Factoring in the projections indicate substantial revenue growth for Runway in the forthcoming years, with estimates as follows:
Funding Rounds & Private Valuations
Runway has secured $236.5 million in funding across five funding rounds. Runway’s approach of streamlining video creation and editing through generative AI has resonated with both customers and investors, leading to significant investor interest since 2021. Notably, the company raised $35 million in 2021, followed by $50 million in 2022. The company’s ability to attract investment has continued to grow, with its latest funding round – a $141 million Series C-II in May 2023 with Google as the lead investor and participation from NVIDIA and Salesforce Ventures. The lates company at $1.5 billion, a 200% markup from its valuation of $500 million post-series C in December 2022.
Comparative Public Multiples
The following table shows the multiple of public companies operating in video editing space. The public multiples provide a useful reference point for Runway’s future valuation. Given the strong track record of the company in video editing as with strategory creation through text-to-video, it is reasonable to expect Runway to command a premium over its public peer multiples.
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About the Analyst
Santosh Rao has over 25 years of experience in equity research with a primary focus on the technology and telecom sectors. He started his equity research career at Prudential Securities and later moved to Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Gleacher & Co, and Evercore Partners, where he followed Telecom and Data Services. Prior to joining Manhattan Venture Partners, he was the Managing Director and Head of Research at Greencrest Capital, focusing on private market TMT research. Santosh has an undergraduate degree in Accounting and Economics, and an MBA in Finance from Rutgers Graduate Business School. While at Gleacher & Co he was ranked leading telecom equipment analyst by Starmine/Financial
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