Interview With Move’s New CEO: Company Will Focus On Solutions For Full Linear TV
This afternoon, I had a chance to chat with Move's new CEO Roxanne Austin about her new role, the current problems at the company and her steps on how she intends to fix them. While Roxanne gave what I would consider to be all the right answers to the questions I asked, she has a lot of hard work in front of her to execute on her plan. As I told her, she steps into Move at a time when it has no focus, no identity and is quickly losing ground to other platforms in the industry.
For far too long Move's value proposition was simply about quality. Three years ago Move was in a class all it's own but that's not the case today. Move has always been more than a one trick pony but for some reason, the previous folks at Move never truly highlighted all of the features of their solution, their broadcast services or the advertising and monetization tools in their broadcast platform. This is something Roxanne is well aware of and one of the first things she intends to do over the next few weeks is focus the company around these strengths.
Roxanne made it clear that Move has to "follow the rights" and focus their efforts on providing monetization options for content owners who own the rights to content. Her feeling is that Move's real strength lies in their entire platform capable of delivering a full linear service for content owners and cable operators and while that makes sense on paper, I truly don't yet see that being a reality in the market. Yes, we see operators talking about wanting to offer video to any device at any time, but if they expect a large number of consumers to pay an additional fee for that ability, I just don't see it happening. That said, Roxanne's feels that if the cable operators did more than just offer some on-demand video and truly offered a full linear service, the opportunity for Move is a good one.
While I had quite a lot of questions for Roxanne, many of them were just too early for her to comment on, being today was her first day at the office meeting the majority of the company. She said over the next few weeks, she plans to sit down and focus on understanding all of Move's relationships in the market and figure out the ones to focus on that are most strategic to the company. This is crucial for Move as they have a lot of "partnerships" with multiple CDNs in the industry that are not very well managed and they have the relationship with Microsoft that has never matured.
While she would not comment on the Microsoft relationship until she gets all the details and history of what's been going on, she did comment that there are many relationships at the company that need to be re-started. When Move originally did the deal with Microsoft, Move was expecting Microsoft to use their HTTP streaming technology for Microsoft new Smooth Streaming service, something that didn't happen. At the same time, Microsoft was expecting Move Networks to integrate a lot of their unique advertising functionality into the Silverlight platform which never took place. While both companies were excited when they originally decided to work together, the relationship quickly fell apart over time and both sides have admitted that the deal just never worked out like both expected. Personally, I think Move's opportunity with Microsoft is now gone, but lets see what happens.
The two things I got from Roxanne from having spoken with her is that she clearly understands what she is stepping into and the work that will be required to fix it and the importance of focus for the company. Without Move having a defined product offering, a focus on what customers their should be targeting, and a clear message in the market, the company does not have a shot at surviving. But if they can act fast to deliver a very clear and concise message of who Move is, what their value proposition is and how they can help content owners, I think they still have a shot. It was good to hear Roxanne say that Move is already hard at work on their new messaging and will be re-branding the company and roll out a new website sometime this quarter.
As for the financial stability of the company, Roxanne said that Move has a "short window to being cash flow positive," which if true, is clearly as a result of the company cutting 30% of their work force in February. While no one will say how much revenue Move booked into 08', I keep hearing the investment community using a number of $45M, but I have yet to verify that number from any source I trust.
While it's way to early to know what success Move could have with new focus and direction, I think they still have a window of opportunity to be successful. Even with their recent problems, Move has a long list of very large and well known customers who aren't going away anytime soon. The major broadcasters and sports organizations only continue to put more content online, for more devices and in higher quality every single quarter. This was part of the reason Move felt it made sense to acquire Inuk Networks back in April as more broadcasters are beginning to look at ways of moving traditional broadcast content to other devices.
Roxanne has a lot of work ahead of her but from what I can tell, clearly understands that. At no time did I get the sense that she thinks this will be easy and she didn't try and sugar coat any of the problems I outlined within the company. I also liked that at multiple times during our conversation she said the way to prove to the market what Move can do is by showing examples of real customers using the solutions and showcasing the value they see from Move's platform. For me, that's exactly what I look for as anyone can say something works really well, but seeing it first hand, with real customers, that's what gets my attention.
Expect to hear a lot more from Move in the second half of this year as they re-launch their website, deliver their new message to the market and potentially do some media day type events to give others a clearer picture into what Move offers besides good quality video. We'll be watching.