I first built crunch in 2008-2009, and open sourced it while I was at Valve on Google code (then github). The Google Maps team was crunch's first big customer. More and more products started using it, and many of these teams would contact me with bug fixes, or feature requests.
So last year, Stephanie was saying we needed a product, and creating a commercial version of crunch seemed like a no brainer. A ton of teams were already using the library, it cut game downloads in half or more, and we had (and still have) no competition in this space. Unlike many startups, our technology already works and is deployed in the field! So it was a natural fit.
I started rewriting crunch right after out initial announcement last year.
For other middleware, there's definitely a need for a good binary delta compression codec. We'll eventually get to that if nobody else does. On the graphics side, I think there are plenty of opportunities in the AR/VR space.
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