The startup powering your streaming videos

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Today’s guest figured out that distributing streaming video is becoming more complicate, not less complicated. So he created a way to make it easier for developers.

Jon Dahl is the founder of Mux, an API that enables developers to build unique live and on-demand video experiences.

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Jon Dahl

Jon Dahl

Mux

Jon Dahl is the founder of Mux, API for video.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. Joining me as someone who has spent basically his whole career focused on getting video on the internet. And the first thing that I said to him before I even said hi, was why is it so hard?

And truthfully, I wasn’t doing it to be a jerk. I thought all it took was. Well, we’ll get into what I thought it took. We’ll get into why it took two different companies and why now it’s really taking off he’s. It’s like an understanding that he’s gotten now about the business side of business. That’s helping this business take off.

All right. His name is John doll. He is the founder of monks. Monks is it’s an API that enables developers to build unique live and on-demand video experiences. I kind of read that. I don’t like reading this stuff, John. I like to actually have a conversation, John. Here’s what I thought it took. I thought I shoot a video.

I put it on, let’s say AWS, Amazon web services. I link to it from my, from my website. And I basically say to any browser that comes in and safari Chrome, whatever. Play the file that I linked that I gave the URL to right here, go. And then the browser has to do the work. Why isn’t that it?

Jon: Um, yeah, that’s a great question. So you, you you’d hope it’d be like that. That’s kind of how images are, like, if you want to put an image on a website, you just put an image on a website, right? You don’t have to do anything else. The browser knows how to

Andrew: Perfect example. Thank you for not making me sound like an idiot for not understanding. Yeah. That’s exactly it.

Jon: Yeah. Uh, unfortunately video is way more complicated than that. Um, and, uh, know I started working with like all my video 15 years ago, um, and built some things to try to make it easier, actually wave video streamed and publish has gotten more complicated, not less complicated over the last, like 10, 15 years.

So yeah,

Andrew: because, and the reason this is important is you’ve said video is eating the world. And what you mean by that is,

Jon: Um, so yeah, I’m, I’m kind of riffing on the old, like eating the world, saying that I think Marc Andreessen said that maybe 10 years ago it was really a really great analogy for like all these offline things moving online. So like, taxis are not really a software thing, but now they are like, Uber is a software company.

We just kind of, that has taken that

Andrew: Do John toothbrush was not a software company. He was a piece of plastic with some bristles attached to it. My kids have these connected toothbrushes so that I know are they moving their toothbrush the right number of times, are they getting all quadrants of their mouse? Right. So that’s software eating the world, video, eating the world is.

Jon: Yeah. I think there’s a similar thing happening right now with video, which is, uh, these, these, these categories that had nothing to do with video five years ago or 10 years. Um, all of a sudden are becoming like video. First thing to think of like the Peloton, like riding a bike without a video thing.

It’s not a software thing either. Um, and then this whole huge category that is like at-home fitness, connected fitness, which is really like a video first category. It couldn’t exist without video. Um, I think you see that in lots of other places, um,

Andrew: example of that.

Jon: Um, I think last year, a big thing we saw was events like in PR like in-person events or, or even, even in these meetings used to be an in-person thing.

Um, and meetings are increasingly done over video today.

Andrew: No, let me pause for a second. I’m going to, okay. All right. So what you’re saying is video is taking over a lot of our online experiences. It’s what’s what percentage of internet traffic now?

Jon: Yeah. I think the latest numbers are, you know, north of 60 going on 80. I’m not sure the exact number today, but, um, Cisco does the study and it’s like maybe 70% of internet traffic is video.

Andrew: That makes sense. I mean, more and more of what I’m doing online is involving video. And if it doesn’t, I search on YouTube for the video equivalent, right. I get it. All right. And so what you started telling me is if someone wants to actually present video online, they have to create different versions of the video file for different browsers.

They then have to, um, enable the browser to pick the different video file. Right? What else goes into it? Help me understand the complications that you see.

Jon: Yeah. I mean, so the real problem is that video is just so complex. Like the amount of data in a video stream is just like it’s a million times more than the amount of data in texts or images. Um, uh, The screen more than even just audio. So when you have that kind of a problem, you really have to worry about, uh, Making it work on every, on internet connections that may not have enough bandwidth or you’d have to work on different devices.

So, so yeah, so what you end up doing is something called adaptive beret streaming, which is, this is how almost every video is streaming today. Um, where the video is turned into three or five or 10 different sizes and formats and resolutions and qualities. And then actually the device makes a choice. So the device actually reads like a little text file.

Hey, here’s all the options available to me. And then the player says, but if I says, um, I would like the middle rendition or I’d like the top rendition or something like that. And it all happens automatically behind the scenes and you don’t really notice it. Um, but it’s a lot more than just a single video file being downloaded.

Um, because that, that, that would be inefficient. It would use way too much bandwidth and it would actually buffer a lot because you might not have enough bandwidth for the file. You’re trying to download.

Andrew: And the way that you understood that this was a problem was you had an agency. You saw this with your clients. Can you give me an example of what you saw? This was back when 2007. Yeah.

Jon: Yeah, exactly. I, I actually knew nothing about video at this time. I was running a little software development shop back in the Midwest, and we got hired by a startup who wanted to, uh, one of the stream video. They wanted to build like a video platform and, um, Kara had volunteered or I was assigned to build the video encoder for this.

Um, I didn’t even know what video and coding was, but, uh, I was like, okay, cool. How hard this could be. How, how hard can this be? Um, it turns out it was really complicated. And the first thing I did was look for a company or a service, um, that would handle video and coding or a piece of software we could buy.

And there was like nothing out there except for $3,000 physical appliances. That was like the only way to encode video in 2007. Um,

Andrew: what does it mean to encode video? You’re shooting. If you’re shooting video on your phone or on a camera, what’s the encoding part.

Jon: Yeah. The encoding is it’s the actual, um, sexual compression of the video. But anytime you want to change video size, like if you want to resize it up or down, or you want to change the bit rate or the quality, or you want to really, if you want to manipulate the video in any way at all, um, you have to do this really hard process called video and coding.

It’s hard just cause it’s really computationally intensive.

Andrew: Okay. All right. And so you didn’t even know that, that you didn’t know how to get this done. You saw that this was necessary for your client. Did you turn down the client or did you say I’m going to build it for the client and then sell it to others?

Jon: Yeah, no, I, uh, what I ended up doing is I found an open source project called FFmpeg, which today is basically the way all videos and coded UTVs and Netflix uses that everyone uses it. Um, and I wrapped it in a little Ruby SDK, so I built a little open-source Ruby project called our video back in the day.

That was a Ruby Ruby driver of a, of a video encoder. Um, and then put it on some kind of hectic. Distributed systems, so it could, uh, you know, scale. Um, and that was my very first, probably really bad for, into video and coding.

Andrew: and how did that, so what was the problem with that? When you say that it was a bad excursion? Yeah.

Jon: Um, I mean, it was, it was, uh, it’s a much harder problem than like I can do alone in 60 days.

Andrew: Hmm.

Jon: uh, Also the technology was immature back then. Um, like video encoding and video streaming technology has come a long way in the last 14 years or whatever.

Andrew: When did you decide to turn it into a business?

Jon: Yeah. I, so that, that, that project ended, um, and, uh, It just stuck with me that, like, it was pretty obvious video is going to grow. Like if you, if you look at the world in 2008, you’re like, it’s going to be more video online or less video online in the future. I think more is a pretty safe bet. Um, and I saw firsthand how hard it was, which is actually a pretty common pattern.

I think a lot of, a lot of entrepreneurs like experienced a problem themselves and then go and solve it. Um, let’s say it’s not a bad way to go. So I bootstrapped for a couple of years. Kind of a bad version of turning that into a product, then built a medium version that we actually partnered with another company, a bigger video company, um, and built their cloud video encoder.

Um, but it was a partnership and Google bought that company ended up going away. Um, and then I built Zen coder, which was my first startup that actually my first startup that actually went anywhere, I should say.

Andrew: You you raise money from amazing people and recent Harwich Horwitz, which is now backing mucks, Y Combinator, Ron Conway, Chris Saka, Dave McClure.

Jon: Yeah.

Andrew: How was it to raise money from such impressive investors?

Jon: We raised two seed rounds. So we ended up staying pretty small and we, we only raised seed funding. Uh, the first one was hard and like we raised from some great investors. I think Chris Saka came in on our first round. Um, but it was a lot of work. Um, back in 2010, if you tell people you’re building a video and coder first, they’d ask the same questions you’re asking, which is like, what’s a video encoder, which is a fair question.

Uh, but then it also asks. Isn’t YouTube, just the future of video. Like why would you ever need this? Have YouTube exist? So we had to, we had to get some, yeah, yeah. We actually had to get investors over the hump of saying, you know what, like consumer video sharing is not the only use of video for the future.

There’s actually a lot more that will be done with video in the future.

Andrew: And so you had to convince them that I guess that there’d be online learning that would not use VR that would not use you to there’d be all these other live video sessions.

Jon: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think, I think I articulated better now than I did then, but like the way I think about it now is video is just a fundamental building block of the internet today. Um, and every company should have access to video kind of like you’re describing just as an easy thing. They can drop in wherever they want to do it.

Um, But that’s an infrastructure problem. That’s not like an application problem. It’s not like you can’t find a way to stream video on YouTube. Obviously you can do that. It’s like you actually want to build on top of video. You’re not going to use YouTube. You actually need this as like a piece of infrastructure.

That’s a part of your software that you’re building.

Andrew: I think that there was this belief that they were going to be two different approaches. It was either going to be YouTube or it was going to be Wistia or someone like Wistia. They would make things private, YouTube would keep things public. The two would dominate the market 80% to 20%.

Jon: Yeah.

Andrew: Is that what you were coming up against?

Jon: Um, yeah, I think, I think that, that, uh, yeah, it was Wistia or maybe a few other of the B2B video platforms. Um, we’d come up against them too, for sure. but I think, I think both of those, like Wistia, YouTube are both application level. Like neither of them are infrastructure. Neither of them are building blocks.

Developers don’t want to build on top of Wistia and they don’t want to build on top of YouTube. They want to build on top of something lower level, um, because they, they, if you build on top of YouTube or Wistia, um, You’re using their database, you’re using their, um, product decisions. Like you, you can’t actually build video the way you want to build it.

You just gotta take whatever decisions they’ve made. Um, it’s like, uh, I think one of the most important reasons that, uh, Amazon web services worked is they found the right abstraction level. So below them, you could buy physical hardware. You could, you could run your own virtualization on top of hardware.

Um, think of like Rackspace Rackspace had cloud offerings back in the two thousands. That were lower level than eight had been like easy two. Um, and then above there you had like Google app engine, which did a lot more, like it was kind of an amazing product for its time. It was, did way more than ECQ, but that was too high.

Um, and the obstruction level. So developers didn’t want infrastructure and a box like app engine and developers didn’t want, um, all of these building blocks that you had to do a ton of work on top of the sweet spot ended up being ECT, which is like just an API to a server. Um, Does that make sense? So I think video, I think abstractions is really important with developer products.

Andrew: Okay. And so how’d you get your first customers at Zen coder.

Jon: Yeah. We, um, our literal first customer is I think we emailed the YC mailing list. We’re like, Hey, anyone doing video and coding and want to try this out? And we got. Two or three customers that way. Um, one was posturing, the old blog number fosters. Yeah. They, they were really like our first customer,

Andrew: Gary tans

Jon: others. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Yep. Um, and they were great and they, we just worked really closely with them and they said, Hey, here’s our big problems. One is. Five, fortunately the timer video and coding just doesn’t work. People upload junk files and they don’t work. So if you could make them work, that’d be really valuable.

Um, too, it’s slow. Uh, if you could make it faster, that’d be really valuable. So, so we kind of took those to heart and we, we actually just, we, we downloaded all their junk files and we just like kept working on the encoder until it can handle almost all of them.

Andrew: What they call junk was just files that they couldn’t show on a website. Got

Jon: So sometimes it was, it was literally corrupt video. Sometimes it was like, I don’t know, like, so someone had canceled the video creation, mid, mid process, and it had like a bunch of artifacts in it. Or they were really old formats that didn’t really exist anymore. And things like that.

Andrew: Okay. All right. And postures of course, was the quick blogging platform that you can add content to from email or the web. All right. So I can see how that’d be helpful. Let’s talk about the sale. Why did you decide to sell it?

Jon: Yeah, so we sold it. We sold the company. We were about 16 people. We hadn’t raised venture funding, only seed funding. It was really early on, were a few million of revenue. So we basically built this like good early business. Um, and it was, uh, it was an inflection point where. We had one path where we could go and raise proper venture capital and grow the company significantly.

And really try to go for, you know, five or 10 more years on this business, maybe seven or 10 more years on the business. Um, the second was we could, um, realize the value of what we built without taking on all that extra funding and all that extra risk. Um, you know, it was, it was a hard decision, honestly.

Like I think I, I don’t know. I don’t know what it would have been like if we’d made the other decision, obviously. Um, but it was, it was a decision that, uh, one we’re proud of what we built, but, you know, maybe we were ready to, maybe we were not eager to take on all that, uh, venture funding and risk and all the layers of management, all those kinds of things.

Um, and two, I think we had a lot of confidence that we could do something again. So, um, that, that was part of

Andrew: So take the win on this one, have a clean, uh, finish line and then maybe come back to another one. You had a thousand customers that was impressive. You had a SmugMug great company, uh, Yammer, David, uh, what’s the name? David Sachs’s company. That right. PBS. I see. Funny or die college humor. You had just phenomenal people on there.

You sold to bright Cove. Bright Cove started out doing like video the way that YouTube does. Right. They were competing with YouTube. By the time you sold to them, what were they like? What were they doing?

Jon: So they’d become a, uh, like a B2B video platform. So they were kind of like Wistia in our earlier example. Um, but actually bigger than Wistia. And they did, they, they worked with a wider range of customers in Wistia. So they were. Back in 2012 and kind of the really early days of online video, they, they were probably the biggest B2B company doing video infrastructure or video video as a product, I should say.

Um, so we, we did a part of what they did for a different audience. They mostly sold to big media companies. So they would have sold the most of Hollywood companies. Most of the like, uh, um, broadcast TV folks. And second, they sold to marketers, which is kind of the whiskey audience. So they would sell to like Coca-Cola or Wells Fargo or Delta or whatever.

Um, we sold the developers. So we were like a new, a new segment for them to hopefully tap into

Andrew: You’ve told our producer what you sold for. I didn’t see it public. Can you say what it is?

Jon: yeah. It’s out there. So the, the, the sale price is over here. Yeah, it was,

Andrew: see it.

Jon: yeah, it was $30 million.

Andrew: Okay. All right. So nice exit for you considering it was just a seed round that you took on. You got beyond that. You got to go into bright Cove and you had this experience that I think most of us entrepreneurs don’t appreciate the value of, you got to see how fully working company works.

W one that works well. Right? What did you learn from them?

Jon: Yeah. So I, I learned a lot on the, I’d say really the sales side of the house and just sort of the business side of the house. So I was a developer, uh, Zen coder. 12 engineers and four non-engineers. Um, and, uh, I don’t think I appreciated, well, no, I probably maybe appreciated it, but I had no idea how to.

Run the business side of the house, honestly, like I, I ran Zen coder on instinct. Like we, all we did was talk to developers, listen to them and build good products, um, which is a good recipe to get to product market fit. And it’s not a good recipe to scale a business after that. So, um, so yeah, I break coat.

I spent a lot of time with the sales team around the world. We actually grew this encoder business pretty significantly just by bringing in more sales resources. Uh, And yeah, it was, it was a, it was a good place. It was good people. I, I feel like I learned a lot there. Um, in my time there.

Andrew: It was from what I understand was six times revenue growth within two years. So it was a phenomenal win. And what you saw was the power of a well-organized sales team to promote a product. The thing that I wonder though, is I understand a sales team to sell the bright Cove product, but to sell to developers.

It kind of reminds me of Jeff Lawson’s old Twilio business, where it was not about salespeople was about embedding developers in with early developers and showing them how to do this. How did, how did salespeople help promote this business?

Jon: Yeah. So it’s an important question for anyone selling to developers? I think, um, I think first it’s important to see that actually very few salespeople at Brightcove learned how to sell Zen coder. They, they maybe, I don’t know, maybe they had 60 accounts. And probably five of those account execs really drove all the growth is encoder.

So it was a, it was a certain profile who actually learned how to sell to developers as well. Um, which is different than selling to sometimes in selling to other other buyers. Um, I think, I think there’s a. It’s true that developers don’t want to be sold to like developers. Don’t like SDR developers don’t respond to SDR emails.

You know, they’re not going to like hop on a call just cause he sent the fourth one, uh, with some like Woody opening. Um, but um, developers do want to buy products. And so it’s more like once a developer decides that they want to either look at or buy a product, then sales has a helpful role in basically helping them walk through and navigate what it takes to buy.

So in some ways sales can be like a concierge to a developer. So developer says, Hey, I want you to put a lot of video and sales has great. Let me help you with that. Um, and I think you can actually have a productive yeah.

Andrew: if they’re not responding to an SDR, how does sales know that there’s a developer who needs this time?

Jon: Um, best case scenario, the developers signs up for the product and starts using it. So a sales person sees that. So Zen coder was self-serve. Um, you could buy the, you buy every feature in the product without ever talking to someone. So developer signs up, they start growing and then either they reach out and they say, Hey, my Bill’s high.

Can you help me with that? Or sales would reach out and say hello. I noticed that you’re using a lot of video. Can I schedule a call? Um, and people are a lot more receptive once they’ve actually actually started using a product to talking to sales.

Andrew: Okay. And that’s what was built after, by cold. Okay.

Jon: Um, we, we had that before, but we only had, we have one, we had one sales rep who is great, but it was just, we were really scrappy and just, um, early. So after we sold the brake hose, um, all of a sudden we had, you know, a number of like experienced account execs around the world, um, who were, were ready to do that.

Andrew: So it was more developers who had more access to more salespeople. And instead of limiting the number of times that people can have a call. Okay. I see, I see where this is going. And then what got you back into it to, to create monks?

Jon: Yeah. Um, yeah, so I left Braco after a few years. Um, uh, and I’ll say that it sort of felt like unfinished business where, um, I saw firsthand how hard it was to stream video in like 2007. I saw it again in 2010 and we helped a little. 2015. Um, I took some time off and like, it was arguably even harder for a developer to build video in 2015 as it was in 2007.

Um, because video has gotten so much more complex. So yeah, it, it felt like unfinished business. There was no one out there really taking a dev. Trying to build a developer first video platform that was more comprehensive than just video encoding. Um, it felt obvious that someone would do it and yeah. And we decided to do it.

Andrew: You’ve got back to the old team.

Jon: Yeah. So, um, yeah, so one of my Zen critter, co-founders Steve Heffernan. Um, and then two, two of the best people we hired as encoder, uh, Matt McClure and Adam Brown. So the four of us started Lux together.

Andrew: Okay. And you told her producer look, the challenge was video transport video transcoding was hot. Also, there’s now global video delivery at scale. And then of course, the diversity of devices that just keeps growing and growing Android, X-Box iPhone, all these other devices to help.

Jon: And, and then let’s take it one degree further. Um, live videos growing really quickly live video is a lot more complex even than on demand

Andrew: And you saw that even then,

Jon: yeah, we, we, we don’t live video. Um, Within Zen coder, maybe in 2013. Um, and it was, it was hard. It was a lot of work. Um, but we built some in grades. Um, but, uh, yeah, but, but the, the, there was more that needed to be done to make live video work well.

Andrew: All the articles that I saw said that you started out with max data, what was max data?

Jon: Yep. Yeah. So the first product we actually built was. Analytics for video streaming. Um, think of something like Grafana or new Relic or Datadog, it was, it was the kind of operational metrics that, um, you need to operate a video platform. Um,

Andrew: understand what, and then who was it? That was going to be a customer.

Jon: yeah, so the things we track are things like error put playback errors, or how much rebuffering is happening or slow load times, uh, video quality, those kinds of things. Um, It’s it’s think of it this way. If you’re a software developer and you get a job and, uh, your job is to, you know, maintain or operator improve some existing piece of software, you can’t do that without really sophisticated monitoring.

Like if your boss is like, Hey, we’re having budget cuts. So we’re just gonna cancel all of our monitoring tools, um, or, or observability tools. Like you’ll probably leave that job because it’s impossible to operate software without a really rich, like, stack of. Um, but that didn’t really exist for video. Uh, people were streaming video at really high scale with absolutely no insight into what was actually happening when they stream the video.

Andrew: Were you doing that because they needed the insight or because you wanted the insight.

Jon: Um, yeah, both honestly. So, um, we’d sell it because they needed the insight. And so we sold the customers like, like media companies, like discovery and CBS who are streaming a lot of video software companies like you to me and, uh, Reddit who are streaming a lot of video. Um, but we built that product as part of a larger vision of building this more comprehensive platform for developers.

And we wanted that data so that we could actually do. Other video software better.

Andrew: To see what the problems were to see what the use was, to see where the opportunity was because you see all this data and then to say, we can solve the problems. We can jump on this opportunity. That’s what it was. And then as you were building to build one product with the idea that you would then go and build another that’s, that’s challenging, right?

Jon: Yeah. Yeah. It’s really challenging. I think, I think on the one hand, every successful software company builds multiple things. Like, you’ll see this pattern. People build a great first product. They grow in order to keep growing. They have to build more products. That’s just a really common pattern in software.

On the other hand, we did it. We did it really early, maybe, maybe too early, honestly, like we barely had product market fit on our first product before we built our second product, which was really challenging actually. And we were a small team. We were like 20 people that was building and maintaining it.

Both like the analytic stack that powered the Superbowl for the last three years and global high-performance video streaming, um, with 20 people. And that was kind of crazy, but, uh, but we thought it was the right thing to do.

Andrew: literally, you got the Superbowl as a client.

Jon: Yeah. Yeah. 2019. We, for the first time we had the super bowl as a

Andrew: How did you get so many clients right off the bat?

Jon: So for mux data, we, in a lot of ways, we relied on our reputation and network having done a lot of things in video. Um, we, you know, we’d done Zen coder, we’ve done big up source projects. We run the D conference, which is the best conference for video technology in the world. Um, and so from, from those relationships, uh, and knowing the industry, we were able to get, you know, probably our first PR probably half of our first 30 customers came from, from that.

Andrew: Okay.

Jon: And, um, yeah, a lot of word of mouth as well.

Andrew: And then the conference, one of the ways that you wanted to grow was creating a community. Why conference instead of a blog, which is easier instead of online ads.

Jon: Yeah. Um, yeah, so we, we created the community organically, which I think is actually how a lot of good communities evolved. Like it wasn’t a corporate decision of like, we need a community. It was actually, we were actually just running the San Francisco video technology, uh, meetup, my co-founder Matt, um, started that thing back maybe 20 13, 20 14.

Um, and it was just a really. Great high energy community of people from little startups and people from YouTube and people from all over, you know, working on video technology. Um, and we saw an appetite for that in other places. So we helped start meetups and Sydney and London and Seattle and lots of other cities around the world.

Um, and out of that, We said let’s do a conference. So we put together in 2015, the very first DMX conference. Um, I think, I think the other answer to your question is that communities, there’s lots of really strong online communities. You know, you can have a great discord community or whatever, that’s fine, but like impersonal relationships are also still really powerful.

And so I think both a meetup at a conference where we’re a great way to build the

Andrew: What was the draw for attendees? Why did they want to come to the conference? The first one?

Jon: Uh, so the first one, I think we had a hundred and. We’ve had 130 attendees at the first one. Um, it was a lot of people who probably had been working on video technology professionally for many years. And it was like their first chance to actually get in a room together with a bunch of people doing the same thing.

So it’s about learning certainly, but it was also just about like building those relationships.

Andrew: So then now you, you understood how to create product market fit from before you understood what the problem was. All along, everything was coming together. What did you bring in from bright Cove about sales that allowed you to grow mugs faster?

Jon: Yeah, we I’d say we brought in the, we brought in, uh, sales and marketing a little bit earlier than some developer products. Wouldn’t so there’s, there’s a lot of developer companies out there. Um, who think they don’t need sales even at like medium scale. And they, um, you know, maybe they get a great product out to get good product market fit, they get organic adoption.

Um, but eventually you’re going to plateau. Um, if you don’t invest in sales, marketing, um, this, this, I think it’s, I’m curious if there’s any exceptions out there, but I know, I know there’s a lot of companies who have, um, struggled because they didn’t do this. Um, so even Twilio today, You know, heavily invested in sales Stripe has, you know, very strong global sales.

So, uh, yeah, so we, we brought in sales a little bit earlier. We, we tried not to give up that DNA of still being product led and still like really investing in the best products and great, you know, and really understanding the persona that we’re selling to. You have developers. Um, but say sales helped us, um, especially sell mux data, which is selling a little bit less too.

It’s still used by developers, but it’s selling a little bit too less of a developer buyer than the mux video.

Andrew: What was your what’s your sales process? What’s it look like.

Jon: Yeah. It’s still heavily, um, heavily inbound, heavily reputation driven. So, you know, largely people come to us and try us out. But increasingly people come to our website and they click contact sales. So we have, we have a sales team, we have an enterprise team, a mid-market team and a Starbuck team. So we kind of segment based on customer size.

Um, and, um, we do a mix of, you know, mostly inbound we’re slowly building our outbound muscles, um, to be able to do that as well. Um, but it’s still is it still is, like I said earlier where most people want to buy our products, even before they talk to sales, which puts us at a great advantage. And like, hopefully our salespeople love that,

Andrew: What’s your sales numbers now? How high are you?

Jon: uh, in terms of revenue,

Andrew: Yeah.

Jon: um, uh, that’s great. I, I, I know the answer. I’m trying to think of what

Andrew: Just even ballpark to get a sense of how big the business is.

Jon: Yeah, I’d say a decent eight figure revenue. Um, so yeah,

Andrew: And you’re a unicorn over a billion dollars and recent Horowitz invested again in you. Um, how much revenue, how much funding do you take overall?

Jon: Uh, we have raised in total, I want to say about $160 million is a hundred, a hundred million to 105 million this year as part of this.

Andrew: you’re a guy who started out saying I’m just leading by intuition at this stage. You’re not, are you still playing by intuition or have you gotten a process? Have you gotten some solid, more concrete education or do you get it in your gut?

Jon: Yeah, I’ve, I’ve hopefully gone a long way past just the intuition. Like it’s, it’s, it’s hard to, it’s hard to scale as a leader and it’s actually, if you’re a startup founder, it’s one of the most important things is like scaling yourself. Um, so I’ve put a lot of time into trying to understand what is my role as a CEO, as we move past product market fit and move into the grow

Andrew: What’d you learn?

Jon: Um, I think the best advice I got was from, uh, Ali Y Combinator, um, who says like the job of a CEO at a growth stage is three things. First is, um, being responsible for vision and clarity around strategy and alignment. So I spend a lot of my time, uh, helping both helping understand where we’re going, but also just helping communicate to the whole team.

Like, what are we doing? Why are we doing it? Uh, what matters. Um, so the V vision clarity is the first one. Second is leading a great leadership team. Um, I, you know, we’ve, we’ve hired great executives, uh, beyond the founding team. Founders are great and they’re still key exacts, but like we’ve hired a bunch of great people beyond there and a huge part of my job and any CEO’s job is to just run that team.

Well, make sure the right people are in the seats, make sure they work well together, um, and help them succeed as the actual leaders who are maybe doing. Um, third job is being responsible for company culture. So how do we behave as a company? How do we work together? Um, it’s a really important and actually high leverage thing.

Um, so strategy leadership team culture

Andrew: when you do the vision, John, how do you come up with the vision at this point?

Jon: Um, so I’d say the vision itself, um, You can think about like the horizon things change more slowly when they become longer horizon. So our vision actually hasn’t changed that much. Like our vision is to power online video. We want to democratize is really hard technology. So anyone can build with video, uh, without it with the same quality as Netflix or YouTube.

So vision hasn’t changed. The strategy has changed a bit. Um, and I’ve done a lot. I’ve done a lot of reading on strategy, what makes good strategy. Um, and you know, I, I honestly spend time just thinking about what that means for us. I think unstructured times and important

Andrew: What do you mean by strategy versus division?

Jon: um, you think of vision as like.

What’s the, what does success look like? So you can just think of the word vision. It’s like visual. It’s like, like envision what success looks like. So for us, it’s powering online video.

Andrew: Uh, huh.

Jon: but that doesn’t tell you how to do it. Strategy is like, what’s the path. So strategy is what’s what’s your path to get into your role.

So if you’re playing chess, like the vision is to take the opponent’s king and the strategy is how you do it.

Andrew: Okay. And so you’re thinking, what are we going to do this year to get more people, to understand that where the video that they should come to us for video, what do we do to get more developers, to reach out, to hit the button and contact us? That’s the, that’s what we’re thinking about. Okay. I guess I kept thinking of vision is for you changing as the industry changes as COVID hits.

And then there are more people who go online thinking about what’s the fee. How does that change the future of video, but it doesn’t change it substantially for you just

Jon: Yeah. I mean, yeah. Vision can change, but should change really, really slowly.

Andrew: Okay. All right. Finally, your grandfather created Bobcat.

Jon: Uh, yeah, my, my great grandfather

Andrew: grandfather. Who’s your great-grandfather. I was looking up. The story of Bobcat is pretty interesting.

Jon: yeah, his name is, uh, EG Melroe he? Uh, I grew up in North Dakota. Um, he was a farmer and, uh, um, yeah, had an idea for a skid-steer loader and built that company. And then my grandfather, um, was. executive company for awhile. And then actually my grandfather and my father started each, started their own manufacturing companies.

Andrew: Wow,

Jon: uh, I don’t come from any kind of like software, you know, lineage, but, uh, there’s definitely

Andrew: very few people do. And so was this a major part of your family history major, like storytelling around the dinner table would be about grandfather and great-grandfather.

Jon: Um, yeah. Yeah, I’d say so. Uh, I, uh, I mean, it’s certainly one of the, one of the stories in

Andrew: What’d you learn from them from the way that they did things?

Jon: Yeah. Um, so I know, I know more about my grandpa, grandpa, cause I met him. I never met my great-grandmother. Um, but he was just a really humane and down to earth business leader. Um, so he, you know, cared about running a good business, cared about, uh, that kind of success.

But he also just, I think he spent a lot of time thinking about like the health of the people in the business, uh, and the health of the team. Um, there’s one, there’s one story, uh, where, um, he, and like one of his vice presidents were like walking through the parking lot and the vice president, like, I think he like made fun of like some ratty old car.

Maybe one of the welders had a, had an old beater. And, uh, my grandfather who’s a CEO, um, like stopped him and said, don’t say that that person is just as important in this company as you are. Um, I think that was the kind of leader that he was, uh, of his company.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s a good stock to come from. All right, well, thank you Mo. Well, finally, the name mux. Great domain three. What does it mean? How, how much did it cost you to get that domain

Jon: Uh, it was a lot. It was, it was.

Andrew: hundred? Over a hundred thousand, I imagine.

Jon: yeah, it was, it was definitely in the, you know, mid to high six figure range. Um, yeah, so, so mux is shorthand for multiplex multiplex saying if you come, if you come from electrical engineering, uh, uh, you know that, but it’s also, it’s also a key part of video. So multiplexing is combining multiple, um, signals of data in a single channel.

Um, so. The last step of creating a video file. So if you, if you want to do be a transcoding, you actually separate out the audio and video and you can press the audio and you press the video and then you bring them back together and do a single stream. And that’s called mixing multiplexing Luxigon. So anyone from the industry kind of gets what mux is.

Anyone outside the industry is like, whoa, what’s that? So,

Andrew: I just thought it was such a cool domain, that it would be three letters like that. And then it was, you know, available for something that’s. So developer centric, you could’ve gotten away with something a lot more technical and longer, but impressive that you got this. All right. Congratulations on so much here.

Um, I’m looking at your website, you’re the guys who power up soul cycle. You, uh, you work, uh, you work with Fox, you to me, Reddit, uh, um, different platforms, Wistia that we keep talking about as a client of yours. All right. Continued success. Thanks, John.

Jon: Thank you.

Andrew: Right on. Thanks everyone.

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