A few weeks ago, Ryan Lawler of Contentinople sent me an email, asking my thoughts about this Brightcove blog entry: http://blog.brightcove.com/jeff_whatcott/2009/07/a-warm-welcome-to-former-maven-customers.html
In particular, he wanted to see if I had any reaction to the following bit:
“Since the announcement, there has been a parade of upstart online video platforms trying to make headlines with “Maven Rescue” price discount programs. One has to wonder whether the Maven customers who are wooed by such offers are jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Moving from a platform with a death sentence to a platform with little or no track record meeting the needs of sophisticated customers seems like a bad idea. Given their recent experience, I am betting that Maven customers will see through the smokescreen and focus on making the right long term choice for their business.”
While a good chunk of my reply to Ryan’s inquiry appeared online (http://www.contentinople.com/author.asp?section_id=450&doc_id=178931), I thought that our newly-launched blog was a nice forum to share my response in its entirety.
On January 15, 2006, Ron Conway responded to an email pitch of mine and wrote, “[T]he more I think about this I am worried you are close to what Brightcove is doing and they are getting well established……any thoughts on that …?” My reply was that one of the differentiators for us was that we actually had a product. As a first-time entrepreneur, it was very difficult to raise money. I heard everything from “online video is dead” to “Adding video is easy and honestly is not a good business because of the bandwidth costs.” So I was knocking on VC doors, showing our platform while Jeremy, who had made investors quite a handsome return in an earlier venture, was in the Wall Street Journal pitching a concept. To date, Brightcove has been a boon to our business and to the market in general. Having raised so much money, they’ve been incredibly effective at evangelizing online video and educating potential customers.
There is some level of irony here as Brightcove was a Maven customer. That said, I don’t disagree with the assessment that companies need to be diligent in selecting an online video partner. The video provider category has gotten significantly more crowded of late and I suspect that many of them are going to be fighting an uphill battle. However, while Brightcove has an interesting product, they are hardly the only game in town. Speaking from our own experience, we’ve had incredible success with sophisticated customers that have very specific needs. Since we built Twistage as a platform (a word that has been bastardized in the online video space) from the ground up, we’re able to integrate more tightly into existing infrastructure.
This is still an incredibly young and immature market. In 1980, Radio Shack was the most intimidating computer retailer while Tandy dueled with IBM. Compaq wasn’t yet an idea and Michael Dell was a few years away from putting together hardware in his dorm room. Brightcove is clearly the early leader in terms of mindshare, but if Jeff Whatcott can really see the future, I’m going to have him buy me some lottery tickets.
Something else worth noting in Ryan’s piece is the general apprehension of executives to stand up for themselves. Perhaps the collective mindset was, “If I dignify this with a response, I’m acknowledging that Brightcove is calling my company ‘high-risk’ for potential customers.” I can certainly understand the reluctance people would have in allowing a competitor to define them. What I can’t understand, however, is how my comments would mitigate this risk. Once I gave my two cents, it seemed as if people were suddenly much freer with their opinions.