Today, we're excited to announce a recent addition to our executive team: video, IPTV and telecommunications veteran, Keith Wymbs. As Vice President of Marketing, Wymbs leads the development and implementation of Elemental’s worldwide marketing strategy, including expansion of our enterprise product line. With extensive marketing, product management and overall business experience in the video space, Keith has worked at every stage of a company's lifespan. How'd Elemental get so lucky? Keith can tell it best himself:
"I’m joining Elemental almost two years to the day after waving a temporary goodbye to the video industry. It was a thrill ride to see the transition to HD, the rapid adoption of DVRs, the fits and starts of internet video, and the telecom industry’s strategic move from bits and bytes to experience and entertainment with the adoption of IPTV. And now I’m back to participate in the real-time streaming revolution of online video. So, what’s the story?
After 15 years immersed in the video world, it was time to conquer new challenges. I took time to follow my passions, run my own company, and focus on family after too many years in tech hyperdrive. I was satisfied, happy, even reflective. But, in many ways I felt underutilized in this work. Watching from the sidelines and seeing the innovations in video delivery and the explosion of content and devices and formats – 2 billion videos delivered daily by YouTube, billions in revenues for content owners – made me wonder. Shouldn’t I be playing a part in this next wave?
Elemental helped me answer that question. The people, the management, the board, and the technology portfolio are all great. But what really stimulates me is that Elemental is positioned at the intersection of what is driving online innovation today. Video is exploding in all dimensions. It’s becoming an extension of peoples’ connected lives and the bloodlines for corporate brands. Oh, and it’s entertaining too. Clearly, it’s become indispensible to the way we live.
Elemental is helping drive this content revolution and I’m grateful to be associated with such an innovative company."
Be sure to follow us @elementaltech to keep up with Keith and Elemental.
At Streaming Media East last month, Larry Kless of Larry Kless’ Weblog and OnlineVideoPublishing.com interviewed our CEO, Sam Blackman, capturing a video demonstration of Elemental’s recently launched live streaming application, Elemental Live. Larry is a long-time video enthusiast and 20-year veteran of the enterprise video space. In a recent post showcasing Elemental Live, Larry said, “[Elemental Technologies] has pioneered the use of GPUs (graphics processing units) and other massively parallel chips for video processing capable of handling multiple simultaneous tasks with much higher performance than CPU (central processing unit)-based transcoding.”
Oregon got some sad news last week when Jive Software announced the company was moving its headquarters to Palo Alto. Jive is a terrific company that has built one of the best social media businesses around: unique technology, a deep customer base, and national recognition in publications like The New York Times. Dave Hersh, Jive’s current chairman and founding CEO, helped mentor many other Portland startups and was an inspirational technology leader here. What happened?
For those of us who have lived in the Northwest for a long time, it’s a familiar story. The excuses are plentiful: it is difficult to find great sales and marketing talent here. The epicenter of the technology world is the Bay Area. There's not enough venture capital in the state. I could go on and on.
So, why try to build a company in Portland?
- Well, first off, there are great technologists here. Intel, Mentor Graphics, Tektronix, InFocus Systems, Clarity Visual Systems, RadiSys, Pixelworks – these companies have engineering teams that know how to build world-class products. That’s a good place to start.
- Second, employees and executives tend to be loyal through good times and bad. A tough quarter or two doesn’t send them running for the door.
- Third, for early stage companies, Portland actually has a very supportive entrepreneur ecosystem. The Oregon Angel Fund, a private-public partnership that invests about $3M per year, gives dynamic startups the capital needed to get to the next step. Elemental was fortunate to be selected by OAF for investment in 2007, and the process not only provided some desperately needed seed capital but also taught us what a professional due diligence process looked like.
Clearly, Portland has some of the basic ingredients required — technical talent and early-stage capital. That's a start. But what gets us to the end -- an environment where the Jives of the world stay and thrive?
In my mind, it’s simple. We need some WINS. Big exits, either via public offering or company sale. Liquidity events that pay back the investors who have deployed significant capital here, and thus encourage more investors to back more companies. Exits that give employees the financial freedom to take risks on new ventures, to be able to go without salary for a couple years and innovate. These exits create a virtuous cycle of re-investment, which drives new value-creation innovation. Rinse and repeat!
While the Bay Area, Boston, and New York have perfected this cycle, cities like Austin (Dell) and Seattle (Microsoft) also provide examples of the innovative ecosystem that can be created on the financial back of one successful company. The last time this happened in Portland was ten years ago when Pixelworks went public. Ten years ago! Until a few more local startups manage to scrap their way to successful exits, it’s going to be tough to get this cycle in motion and build an innovation ecosystem.
Jive was the poster child for the Portland technology scene, and now we’ve got to take that poster down and put up a new one. We still have a lot of great startups here; some of these include AboutUs, Avnera, Clear Access, Kryptiq, GreenPrint, Ontier, Prolifiq, Tripwire, Urban Airship, Vesta and Zapproved. Here’s hoping that the next poster child grows up to be a poster adult, and does so right here in Oregon.
NEWS UPDATE (5/28/10): How coincidental that the next day Tripwire announces that they plan to become Oregon's next public company. We're cheering for them!