When the product actually launched I was up in Beaverton with the CSR team. I remember a few of us hopping in a car and driving to three different Best Buys looking for Slingboxes and asking the blue shirts questions (I had helped prep some of the training materials for the staff). That first day only a couple of them knew what we were talking about, but the ones who did were extremely excited about the product. The next day I spent a little bit of time on the phones myself, answering questions from the “earliest” adopters. I’ve always been a big proponent of providing outstanding customer service, and I think having direct interactions with your customers is one of the only ways to do it.
The Summer of 05 was a bit of a blur. We put out a few software updates to boost the video quality of the product quite significantly, and began work on new features and the SlingPlayer Mobile software. All the while we enjoyed watching the growth on SlingCommunity.com and tracking the sales stats from the retailers. At this point, I was still the VP of Product Management but was also running all the community/viral activities, and flying around to speak at conferences and events. I was stretched a bit thin, so when Rich Buchanan (VP of Marketing) came around and asked to me to pick just one of the two jobs I was doing, I decided to try something different in my career. After about 8 consecutive years of product management/marketing/development roles, I took on a full time marketing position as the VP of Market Development. My role was basically “evangelist” but since (a) I was doing a lot more than just that and (b) the term has so many different meanings, we decided Market Development was more appropriate.
The last product I worked on before taking the full-time external role was the SlingPlayer Mobile software. This was a very interesting challenge as there were plenty of people getting TV/video onto mobile devices at the time, but our task was trebly hard as we also had to deal with networking/latency issues and the ability to provide an interface to remotely control a connected device (like a TiVo or a cable box). I also like to think we hit the nail on the head for this one, as I may be biased but I still consider the software the best mobile TV experience I’ve seen to date. Special kudos to Vicky for taking the ball and running it into the end zone (and then some)!
For those of you who have only “attended” CES, you should know that for a consumer electronics company, planning starts many months earlier. The months of November and December (yes, including holiday times) are spent fairly dedicated to the humongous tradeshow. Rich and Tami spent many days and nights planning the booth to perfection, while Brian J lined up the back-to-back press meetings for Blake, Jason and myself. But even with those capable hands, there was always things that had to get done to be ready for the show. And we knew CES 06 was gonna be a doozy!