Tech Leadership and Innovation

Brightcove’s new CEO seeks starring role in video revolution

Media veteran Marc DeBevoise wants to make Brightcove the default partner for companies becoming media companies.

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Tech Leadership and Innovation

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Brightcove CEO Marc DeBevoise is feeling the heat but not for anything he has done wrong at the B2B video platform provider but because his visit across the pond from Boston has coincided with a rare British heatwave. A previous customer of the company, he was earlier this year charged with restarting Brightcove’s stalled growth engine at the company. With a little over $200m in revenues and eking out single-digit increases, Brightcove, a company synonymous with its market, should be doing better, he says. And over 30 minutes he sketches out some of the ways he plans to improve matters.

Joining from the glamorous broadcast media world after senior positions at companies such as Viacom, CBS and NBC, he says that he already had some firm ideas about where the company is and where it should go, before joining late in March. More details about a new strategy will emerge soon after he discloses them to the markets in August, but he says he has inherited “incredibly solid technology” and has five bets to capitalise on Brightcove’s latent promise.

The first of those of course is growing the company because “we’re a technology company in a space that is growing but we have low single-digit growth”. Second is “to get to larger scale as being a 15 year-old company in the low 200s of millions in revenue [is] just not big enough”. Third is to diversify revenue streams beyond SaaS by exploring areas such as revenue-sharing partnerships and growing in underserved regions. Four and five are driving excellence in internal operations and customer service.  

High concept

DeBevoise talks about “the freedom to have other business models” with potential to do more in consumption-, storage- or usage-based tariffs and openness in dealing with customers to give them what they want such as multi-year deals. Another opportunity is services, currently representing only 5% of revenues. DeBevoise believes Brightcove should be doing more to share deep expertise in developing programmatic, content and video strategies at a time when video is coming to dominate internet usage.

His big pitch is that many organisations want and need to become media companies in miniature, developing and distributing their own material. Organisations as diverse as Andreessen Horowitz, Salesforce and Marriott “realise that part of a business is being a media company”, he says. Companies can outsource that capability to Brightcove because “every enterprise is going to have to act as a media company and if you’re not doing it with video and audio, you’re not doing it right … and we are the best of the best.”

He believes there has been a sea change in that companies in the past may have used a Brightcove to take early steps and then believe they could “graduate” to doing it themselves. “[Now,] I think it’s a unique moment in that they recognise that they graduate to us so they can focus on [core business] and hand those things to us from soup to nuts.”

His vision reminds me of the way many companies are giving up on managing their own datacentres and handing off to an AWS. DeBevoise prefers to draw an analogy with the way ad servers got commoditised by Google, FreeWheel and others.

“You’re never going to build this yourselves,” he says, adding that in part it’s a question of timing, comparing the change to Apple’s comically duff launch of the Newton MessagePad in 1993 versus the iPad 17 years later.

DeBevoise is keen to build community and says that even if major broadcasters are unlikely to see divulging best practices as “antithetical”, enterprises like Home Depot and HSBC probably will be happy to. Brightcove is currently trialling community portal The Bright Spot.

A busy man and one-time investment banker who sits on the board of a SPAC and is still involved in film production, DeBevoise says he is convinced Brightcove can help companies get to market faster, analyse, monetise and, increasingly, develop compelling content. It’s all a bit different from the Hollywood and premier sports of his previous video world but, nevertheless, the future’s bright.