Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sorenson Media Rebrands With Video Delivery Network, Video Publishing, Re-Imagined

In part two of my interview with Peter Csathy, CEO and President of Sorenson Media, we further discuss the launch of Sorenson 360 which helped rebrand his company as a video delivery network and encoding platform. Sorenson Media recently introduced an entriely new corporate identity, including a completely redesigned website and new logo -- the Sorenson "bloom" -- which as Peter says "represents the elegant blooming and organic growth of Internet video. It also represents the blooming of innovation and creativity at Sorenson Media." Just yesterday, Sorenson Media announced announced a significant expansion of their Sorenson Spark licensing program, with companies such as Qualcomm, Sony, Verizon, Ittiam and NXP Semiconductors signing on as licensing partners for its Sorenson Spark decoder enabling the full world of Internet video on mobile phones and other consumer electronic devices. Several weeks ago Verizon Wireless also licensed Sorenson Spark video technology for use in the new touch screen home phone system, the Verizon Hub.

According to Peter, "we are still in the very early innings (inning 2 of a 9 inning game) of the Internet video opportunity" and the game changes everyday.

LARRY KLESS: Where there any surprises that came up during the launch, during the announcement within the past day that kind of got you going, "Huh"? Anything in particular?

PETER CSATHY: Well, I'll tell you this; we did a press tour beforehand and so there was a lot of feedback that we had back. And I can tell you that this is not puffery, but uniformly, it was positive. The video publishing space, there are a number of players in that space already. But what everybody -- and this is what -- I shouldn't say it's surprising, but it's pretty unique that nobody that I've seen and you've seen all of the press, there's been a lot of press that came out of this. But there has not been a single reporter or blogger or analyst that I have seen that had said, "It's a crowded space and we don't understand why Sorenson's getting into it." Even when somebody says there's a space with many players in it, they immediately say, "But Sorenson has the advantages of having the reputation it does, having the customer base, et cetera, et cetera."

So the interesting thing is that I have not seen a single review or article that has been negative. It's been all very positive and, in fact, downright enthused by some. So it's been extremely gratifying. And the reason why I say that's kind of surprising is because that virtually never happens no matter how good a product is. And that's a tremendous testament to the team that we have over here because let's face it; I'm not taking credit for it.

I've been with the company for a few months now and I'm very proud of the job we've done since I've gotten here, but this is because these guys are that good. They're that good, and they're that dedicated to what they're doing. And so you can imagine how gratifying it is for all of us that it's been received so incredibly well in the marketplace.

LARRY KLESS: So in terms of all of the talk of the cloud services, open APIs. For instance, say a customer has an ad network through whatever cloud service, is it pretty seamless to plug right in?

PETER CSATHY: Yes. Absolutely. But the interesting thing about it, and you kind of hit the nail head on something that's a topic that's very misunderstood, and that's ad networks and ad serving and the importance of monetizing videos themselves directly rather than using video to monetize your business.

Remember, our target market is the Squeeze user, the prototypical Squeeze user which is the video professional and the SMB. We're not targeting the media companies like a YouTube or a Hulu, although those kinds of companies do use -- we know Hulu uses Squeeze, as an example. But we're not targeting media companies for our new Sorenson 360, although they can use us. We're targeting the video professional, the SMB. So those video professionals, they told us it's not about serving ads and monetizing the videos that way because they're not destination sites. What it is to them, it's about using internet video and their video assets to better monetize their businesses online. And this is really important. And almost nobody focuses on this critical point. For 99 percent of the businesses out there, they're not video destination sites. But businesses like you and me who want to get their video assets up there to better sell their products, market their products, showcase their products, engage with the customer, market to the customer, educate them. And that's how internet video is used. And that's how they sell more, market more effectively, create an ongoing relationship with the customer so they can market more effectively.

And I'll give you an example, like the travel industry. Travel websites now it's absolutely critical to have video on their sites to sell the services. But they're not selling the videos themselves. They don't care what's on the videos themselves. What they're selling is their resort, what it looks like, the experience so people will book. And so it's very interesting. And I think that all of the focus in the media is about the challenge of monetizing online video. But, again, that impacts one percent or less of the businesses out there. That's the Hulus, the video destinations like in the content sites like newspapers and et cetera. For everybody else, for all businesses out there, it's about making your business more effective, building your business. And internet video can do things that nothing else can. But it's not about serving ads; it's about building your business and engaging your customers more effectively.

LARRY KLESS: Absolutely. Using video, to a certain extent, like direct response.

PETER CSATHY: Absolutely right. And the thing is video -- the medium of video can do things that nothing else can. You can solve better and engage with your customers much more effectively with video than you can with text and with pictures.

LARRY KLESS: And as a note, too, the conversation we just had about monetizing video, you said so well in a previous blog post on May 6th, about it ain't about ads. I think it's so great that you have this blog.

PETER CSATHY: I just think, for me, first of all, I like doing it. Secondly, it gives me just a place where I can -- and for anybody who's interested, they can better understand where I'm coming from on some things because I would say five percent of my posts are about the business that I'm running. The last three days they have been or the last three posts have been just because we had this massive announcement and I wanted to explain it better. But absolutely, like the ad post to me is a very important one because I really do believe that the reporters are missing the point when it comes to monetization.

LARRY KLESS: I agree with you. There's been so much focus on that and it seems, too, that a lot of the coverage of the space is almost looking for like that TMZ moment.

PETER CSATHY: Yeah. That's right.

LARRY KLESS: And then correcting themselves when they got it wrong.

PETER CSATHY: Oh, and don't get me wrong. I think ads are something that's important given the context, depending on the kind of business you are. But it's certainly for the small percentage, a very small fraction of those who are using internet video.

LARRY KLESS: And then how about the corporate rebranding? And I have to say, too, I like new the logo. It's really updated. How was that process?

PETER CSATHY: I'm glad you mentioned that because you know how there's so much thought put into every little detail that you see. And this gets back to the mantra, easy is hard. So you look at the website and it's very gratifying to hear the kind of what you just said because I've got to tell you people love what they've seen in terms of our redesign. And when it gets to the logo itself, it's a long process. But immediately when it was developed, everybody liked it. Everybody liked it internally at our company. And so when it was first shown to me, I said, "I like that." It spoke to us.
And the genesis of it was our creative design had those thoughts -- he developed it based on those thoughts that I discussed in that blog post. That it means this. It means the blooming of internet video. But it's a bloom. It's ground deep in the tradition. It's rooted in the tradition of Sorenson. All of these things bubbled up in his mind and led to the creation of this logo. And so we call it the bloom. And it's interesting because when you think of -- for Sorenson Media -- for something like a 360 product, let's say you call it 360, sure you could have something that's very literal like a sphere, right?


PETER CSATHY: But it's an interesting non-literal logo that we've chosen for this company because it represents something much broader than that. It's those main themes that I identified.

LARRY KLESS: Yeah. I look at it and I was thinking, I mean it looks like a flower. It looks like it's opening up. So it's your designers and they really interpreted where you wanted to go with this. It's great. And then the actual site has just more of a kind of -- the colors -- wasn't the other -- it was like lots of black and lots of orange? It's a much lighter look. And I see they have a link to your blog, too. That's so cool.

PETER CSATHY: Now listen; I'm very pleased and very proud of the creative team and the entire team. They did a great job. So thanks for noticing. And I'll definitely share that with them.

LARRY KLESS: Well, Peter thanks.

PETER CSATHY: Well, I'll tell you one thing that we do here is that -- and I think you know me well enough now because we've spoken a few times -- we're a passionate bunch over here. We really believe what we say. We don't think of this as a job. We really do think that we're very fortunate to be doing what we're doing and have the opportunity to create the things that we do and the experiences that we do. So there's a true passion behind all of this. So when I'm talking to you, I really mean -- it's that kind of enthusiasm.

LARRY KLESS: Yeah, I get it.

PETER CSATHY: And it's across the board with the people here. And that's fun.

This concludes my interview with Peter Csathy. Look for more news on Sorenson Media in their press room, on Peter's blog, check out the related posts below and stay tuned for more coverage on this blog.