SVG Sit-Down: EditShare’s Conrad Clemson Provides Update on Company’s Evolution in His First Year as CEO
The primary goal is an open system of world-class software
Just over a year ago, EditShare announced that it had received a majority investment from private-equity firm ParkerGale Capital and brought on long-time Cisco executive Conrad Clemson as CEO. In the year since, EditShare has rapidly grown its revenue and team, debuted a variety of new and enhanced products, and plotted a new technology roadmap for the future.
SVG sat down with Clemson to discuss his management philosophy, the company’s continued expansion, the latest enhancements to the platform, how EditShare has reacted to the coronavirus pandemic and served its customers’ remote-editing needs, and what we can expect from the company over the next six to 12 months.
How has the transition gone since you came in as CEO?
I feel like we’re somewhere between half and two-thirds of the way through our transformation from what EditShare was to what we aspire to become. I look at the transformation in three chunks: there’s the externally facing go-to-market portion, there’s the innovation factory, and there’s the infrastructure of the company.
From a go-to-market perspective, I feel really solid about the work that we’ve done. I think we are still a little bit the market’s best secret, but we’re not quite as much of a secret as we were a year ago. We’ve made significant investments in the team with a new VP of worldwide sales, new VP of Americas sales, CMO and VP of customer success, and more [executive hires] on the way. We have made and will continue to make significant investments of time, resources, and money to strengthen our relationships with our channel partners.
On the innovation front, we’ve made a ton of progress, and I couldn’t be happier with where we are. Our innovation roadmap is built on a few simple principles that are core to our strategy. We build great software. We are ruthlessly open. Our customers buy because they want to, not because they feel locked into our platform. I’m really proud of how quickly we’ve pivoted in this environment. For example, we did a great integration with Zoom, and I think that shows off some of the core capabilities of who we are and what we do. In just a weekend, our CTO and one of our engineers were able to take our APIs and Zoom’s APIs and connect them together. As soon as video transcriptions are available, we can capture all that, ingest it into our system, and make it available in near real time to editors. If someone is streaming or broadcasting an event on Zoom, they can now capture that content immediately for [postproduction].
In terms of the rest of the company, when we closed [the deal], we hired a new executive team, and we had 98 employees. We were 138 at year’s end, and we’re at about 150 right now. So a large portion of the team has been with the company for less than a year. We’ve had a cultural transformation in the company. We established our core values: win together, dig deep, customer empathy, all-around players, and be humble. We developed our strategy. We’ve built our execution strategy around these pillars
How has EditShare boosted its remote-editing features and cloud-based workflows for customers working from home during the coronavirus lockdown?
You are going to see a compelling innovation roadmap for remote editing unfold, and the cloud innovation that we have accelerated in the last 90 days is really unbelievable. We have filed the core IP, and we’re now sharing with some select customers our next-generation cloud editing platform. Not only is the performance that it brings out amazing, but we’re also going to be able to hit unprecedented price points. EditShare has the products and services that allow you to edit on prem, remotely, or directly from the cloud. We have the vision and the roadmap to connect our editors to our content wherever they are and wherever their content is.
We have our first publicly announced partner on that with Jigsaw 24, one of the major resellers in the UK. They have set up an environment in AWS and been able to offer their customer base short-term virtual access to their systems and editing stations. They can grab the content, edit in the cloud, and deliver finished content. I think that’s very interesting in terms of sports, as people start thinking more about remote productions rather than flying their whole crew out and seating them in a broadcast truck [onsite].
How are your sports customers trying to better utilize and monetize their content libraries during this period without live sports?
One of the things that we’ve been talking about with a number of our customers during this gap is how they can get access to some of their older content. Many of our sports customers have this big archive, and it’s our job to give them a vision and help them better understand a direction for it.
We focus on three things: high-performance shared storage, a skinny MAM, and the API layer. And in tying those together, we can give you a path to go into your archive, pull data out, and tie that into some interesting machine learning and automated capabilities like visual recognition and speech-to-text. Now, all of a sudden, not only do you have an archive, but you’ve got an archive that you can actually use.
How is the sports-production market evolving, and what role can EditShare play in that evolution?
We’re seeing some really interesting opportunities in the sports space. I think we’re only in the second inning of seeing content and cloud meet in sports, and it’s going to be pretty interesting.
We recently worked with Amazon Prime Sports to create automated highlights on some of their tennis programs, including a Monaco tournament. You’re going to see us take that [proof of concept] and not only productize that capability in a meaningful way but also make a series of customer announcements around that. As we start to see more people embracing remote and cloud environments, I think there’s a real opportunity to start shifting the entire paradigm around how we think about content creation.
How is EditShare looking to educate and inform as people have more downtime during the coronavirus lockdown?
We made a pretty large investment in education and training programs with the EditShare Academy and also our Customer Success Group, which is an effort to do more to support our customers than just answering the phone. Since people have a little downtime right now, it’s a great time to brush up on your skills. We’ve had success with a number of our customers in taking them through some of our training programs. We can do a couple of days or even a week of a professional-services program that teaches them skills and then allows them to apply those skills to their own video library so they can expand those capabilities.
What key pillars and philosophies have you looked to implement at EditShare?
Principle number one is to build world-class software. And the investments we’ve made in the team and the development process back that up. [We’ve gone] from a 12- to 18-month release cycle to a quarterly release cycle, and we will maintain that cadence of innovation moving forward. You need a very solid, agile development methodology to be able to do that.
Principle number two is, you must be ruthlessly open. There is no room in 2020 for people to build vertical closed ecosystems; the key to innovation now is building great software that’s open. We’re finding more and more really interesting companies to work with, and we’re working with them to [integrate] our APIs. It’s important to us that our customers buy our software because they want to, not because we force them to.
How do you see the current media landscape impacting the way your customers create and distribute content moving forward?
I think another interesting offshoot of this COVID environment is that the mechanisms that people are using to consume content are changing very radically. People want to consume content in all sorts of different fashions, including the big screen, and that is going to have an impact on how our customers create content. You need to be able to create once to serve many [platforms], and you also need to be able to rapidly publish to multiple environments.
Publishing online to Instagram or Twitter or YouTube, [you] used to be like a second-class citizen, but, in this more virtualized world, everybody is a first-class citizen. I think that direct-to-consumer model is starting to change the way people think about the content. And that’s where it comes back to vendors like us, because we’ve got a great way to help you do that and we also have a great set of partners who can help us to rapidly distribute and syndicate that content.
What can we expect from EditShare in the next six to 12 months in terms of big announcements and innovations?
First, we are finding that our creatives are looking for different choices in terms of what they’re doing in their editing platforms. With that in mind, look for us to make some pretty major innovation announcements about how we can make sure that all NLEs [non-linear editors] are first-class citizens in EditShare environments. Whether you’re working in Media Composer, Adobe Premiere, DaVinci Resolve, we want [to integrate it] into the overall end-to-end ecosystem.
Second, we’re going to continue to invest really heavily in our APIs, as [are] the partners that we’re plugging in on top of that. Look for a pretty steady stream of innovation from us, particularly in the sports world. Look for us to do more things around machine learning and AI for visual recognition, object recognition, and capturing sports metadata. Whatever the data is, we’re going to help you get it into the system, and we’re going to do it at a reasonable price point so that you can properly monetize your content.
If we’ve learned anything in the last eight weeks, it’s that nobody has a true crystal ball for what happens next and we’ve got to be able to plan for many possible outcomes. The actual outcome is probably different from what we planned for, so we’ve got to think about being environmentally flexible. That’s why one of our core principles is to be very open. Our workflow will be fundamentally simple and location-agnostic so that we can be a fast-moving and agile platform that is both expandable and integration-friendly. We update our roadmaps every four weeks, and a lot of the capabilities and the features that we’re rolling out right now were not even on our roadmap in late February. We’re going to be very reactive to the marketplace; we’re going to continue to drive innovation.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.