Today is my last day at Viggle, and it was a heck of an amazing journey. A quick look back:
The early days
While it’s still a vivid, present memory for me, it was almost 4 years ago that I joined Dijit Media, as head of products. Over the next 6 months we watched the company’s first app, the Dijit Remote, grow and evolve, while planning the “next big vision” for our startup. While initially the company focused on solving the challenge of “Control” in home entertainment, we realized there were even bigger opportunities on the horizon. In the Winter of 2012 we rebooted (aka “pivoted”) the company to focus on solving “Discovery” instead, raised new funding, and I moved into the CEO role.
Over the following few months, the team got heads-down, huddled, hacked, and had fun with alliteration, until we launched NextGuide, which we called a “hyper-personalized TV discovery experience” – optimized for the iPad. The vision at the time was to solve for “what should I watch next?” – tons of research has shown that for the most part TV viewers sit down with clear intent for a specific show, but highly infrequently with a followup show in mind (though this is clearly changing in the OTT/binge-viewing era).
The app did quite well at launch, and we grew and evolved it over the coming months. Fundamentally we knew we were solving a real problem and building a product people really liked to use. We launched an iPhone and a Web-based version as well, each of which were fine-tuned for their respective environments. Further, I continued fundraising from esteemed Angel investors like Dan Robichaud and Martin-Luc Archimbault (of the “Montreal/Silicon Valley mafia”) as well as firms such as Alsop-Louie Partners and Menlo Ventures. We even acquired another startup, GoMiso, along the way.
Partnering with Hollywood for TV Reminders
One of the more popular features in NextGuide was the ability to set reminders to get notifications when a show has new episodes on live TV (or Netflix, Hulu, etc). During a team brainstorm one random day, we evolved the idea into “what if we partnered with TV networks to let them serve reminders to their audiences?” and with that, the NextGuide TV Reminder Button was born. Again, an amazing team effort later and not only did we have a working product, but partnerships with major TV networks!
Over the following months, we entered trials with almost every US-based network, and saw the feature soar in popularity. After all, as our logic went, why wouldn’t a network want to remind their audiences about their TV shows? This turned out to be a critical differentiator for the company, as we found a real solution to a commonly held problem by the networks. Further, by supporting major streaming services we were operating from a position where we could actually help the TV industry evolve from its broadcast/analog/nebulous data origins into the OTT/digital/big data future. Oh, and it worked – really well.
Viggle Acquisition and Journey
In late December 2013, while actively raising a fairly large Series A fundraising round, we entered partnership/acquisition discussions with New York-based Viggle, Inc. Dijit had a great team, solid product and features, and good customer acquisition. Viggle had a huge user base, active revenue, and tons of resources. Also, the technology Dijit built was not yet present in the Viggle app, and was highly complementary to the experience. The fit was obvious.
Post-acquisition the combined teams got to work and began cross-implementing technology and features. We added a “Celebrity Alert” feature to the company’s Wetpaint website. We included NextGuide “show pages” into the Viggle mobile app. We added Viggle Points to the NextGuide website. And much more. #synergy
Personally, I moved into the SVP of Products role, running strategy and innovation, as well as all West Coast operations. I had the opportunity to work with the NYC-based product and engineering team, as well as the highly skilled management team. In all my experiences this was my first getting real exposure to mobile advertising, learning about rewards systems, running remote personnel, and much more.
It’s been a great journey. And as all journeys go, they eventually come to an end. So today’s my last day at Viggle, and I’m leaving my team in great hands. No regrets.
As for what’s next? More on that as I sort it out, but here are my priorities right off the bat (in no particular order):
- Family time
- Get outside - do some hiking & camping
- Binge watch Orphan Black (this is important!)
- Build something and/or rebuild my garage workshop area
I may blog and tweet a lot. I may go silent and introspective for a bit. I honestly have no idea – I haven’t had any official career “gap” since leaving Mediabolic and joining Sling Media (during that gap I got married and had a honeymoon, so not sure I can top that). I’ll be sad to leave this amazing team behind, but looking forward to see where the next journey takes me.