Profile: FeedRoom CEO Bart Feder
The switchover from destination site to service provider didn’t happen overnight. "It was an evolution. Because we had come out of a media background, we had developed a good customer list on the media side initially. We landed our first corporate customer, Cisco, back in 2001," says Feder. "We started this expansion into the corporate side, but it took broadband getting to a place where buyers could start having really positive experiences with video online," before that side of the FeedRoom’s business took off.
Breaking down barriers
Common misperceptions regarding streaming as either being too easy—i.e., simply plugging in a Webcam and streaming away—or too complicated hinder its adoption in the corporate space. "From the outside it can look too easy, and, unfortunately, when they do it [the most basic] way, they don’t do enough video to make it important enough for themselves, or they might do it in a way without sufficient quality so their customers won’t consume it. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy when you do it poorly and say, ‘It didn’t work for us, so we’re not going to invest in it,’" says Feder. "The other assumption is that it’s going to be complicated or too expensive to do it. I think those barriers to entry have come down as people have realize that this isn’t a panacea but it’s another arrow in the quiver. That’s the process we’re going through today. It’s going to take a little more time, but it’s definitely accelerating."
Today, companies are using the FeedRoom’s services in a variety of different ways, each based on their own unique set of needs. "They’re all using it a little differently," says Feder. "The two areas that we’re focused on within the corporate space are PR and channel marketing. Some are using the FeedRoom in their online newsrooms for public relations, making it a part of press releases. Wal-Mart’s an example of this. Others are using it for channel communications. We’ve worked with GM very closely. They want to keep their dealer network informed about strategy, the new things they’re doing in Detroit, etc. Sun Microsystems has used us to communicate to the world of Java developers. It’s not internal communication; it’s external communication to an ecosystem that they’re trying to keep close."
The FeedRoom welcomes this kind of experimentation by its customers as it allows others to benefit from the trailblazing of early adopters. "For right now as people are trying different things out, I think it’s critical that we support them in that experimentation," says Feder. "What happens is that out of that experimentation come case studies. We actually find that a great way to continue to lead in this space is to have different customers with slightly different requirements push us to meet those needs, which allows ideas to grow and innovate. Our customers help drive that innovation." Not only that, "it’s easier to sell proof than a concept," Feder continues. "And now we have multiple proof points of how companies are using [our services]."
Of course, back in ’99, Feder would never have guessed that he’d currently be in the position he is today. "I had no idea I was going to be in this job at this company. Back then, it was the Wild West. Nothing seemed like it was going to last for this long," he says. "A lot of our people here have been here the whole way. The core of our company is still the core; a lot of us have been doing this together for five years now, and that’s been very satisfying. We’ve had people get married, have kids. It’s turned from being the Wild West to being a real company with people who are committed to seeing this grow."