Exclusive: StayTuned Launches, Billing Itself As “Content’s Best Friend”
Serge Kassardjian spent more than seven years working at Google, managing media for the Google Play Store and working with high-profile brands such as the National Basketball Association, HBO and the New York Times, among many others. Despite success within this capacity, Kassardjian experienced, first-hand, a major issue facing content providers.
“We noticed our teams at Google were overwhelming content creators with integration, channels to deliver, and it was almost an internal – I don’t want to say competition – but we wanted to get everyone’s attention,” Kassardjian candidly told The Sports Biz. “And then last summer I was kind of looking at the world, with all of the integrations we were asking them to do … and quickly realized the problem at Google wasn’t just a Google problem but it was across everything.”
This is why Kassardjian and co-founder Randy Jimenez are launching StayTuned, a video distribution platform that enables content creators to seamlessly distribute videos across all platforms, including social channels and websites. Its initial backing sits at $2.5 million from venture capital firms Bowery Capital, Courtside Ventures, Social Leverage, Quaker Health, Liquid 2 Ventures, The Fund, Hive Ventures, Grape Arbor and a number of angel investors.
StayTuned hopes to be a one-stop shop for content creators big and small – from the likes of ESPN down to the local doctor – as an affordable service to optimize, publish and measure its clients’ videos across channels such as Instagram, Twitter, websites, OTT apps, etc. Following its three-pronged process, StayTuned’s feedback loop will review data across all channels, utilizing machine learning and data science to essentially understand what performed well, why it performed well, and ultimately providing suggestions to the content creators on what to post on which platforms.
“If you put out a video of a certain player and for whatever reason it’s spiking or overperforming, you should be creating more videos around that. You should be A/B testing. None of this stuff is being measured appropriately. It’s all just being published as quickly as possible. We have a very, very strategic sports angle,” Kassardjian said.
“You look at something like LinkedIn, right, sports videos are not on LinkedIn. Because they don’t know what to do on LinkedIn. But the reality is, sports is a lot about leadership and you look at John Wooden and all of these leadership videos that could potentially be on LinkedIn, why aren’t they on there? Why doesn’t sports have a presence on Pinterest, when merchandise is such big business?”
Kassardjian, a die-hard NBA fan, sees a massive opportunity with regard to the sports industry, given the amount of content being produced on a daily basis and the large budgets of its content creators. This is why it made strategic sense to bring on investors who specialize in the space. Courtside Ventures, an investor in The Athletic and StockX, among others and National Football League Hall of Famer Joe Montana’s Liquid 2 Ventures have taken stake in the company.
“As video continues to dominate web traffic on both web and mobile, there’s an urgent need for Content Creators to understand the various distribution platforms and smart content monetization,” Courtside Partner Deepen Parikh told The Sports Biz. “Serge and Randy present an incredibly strong founding team to take on this challenge, having successfully built several companies and developed products for some of the largest digital media platforms.”
For Bowery Capital, which has fixated much of its previous investments on other software companies focused on making their respective industries more efficient, this was an ideal fit. “We saw the fragmentation in the video distribution market and the clear pain point of distributing the right way to each channel was increasingly becoming difficult and costly. StayTuned has a huge opportunity in front of them to solve for this problem and provide a software solution that increases reach and revenue and cuts significant costs,” Bowery Founder and Managing Partner Michael Brown told The Sports Biz.
While StayTuned is betting big on the strength of video, Kassardjian and team are also looking toward the future and what may come next. He believes that two technologies – augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) – will be two of the next enormous ways in which consumers experience content. While both have received a vast amount of media coverage, neither has leaped into the mainstream. Kassardjian believes this will change in the next ten years, and StayTuned plans to be ready for it when that happens.
“Over time, you’re going to see new types of content distribution. I’m still a big believer in AR and VR, I just think it will take longer… I helped launched Daydream, Google’s AR/VR platform. I see the potential. From the perspective of StayTuned, we just distribute content to all the end points. So if there’s an audience there, we’ll distribute. Our whole focus is making content creators be content creators and making it super easy for them to distribute their content. Everyone talks about blockchain, and as that becomes an endpoint 20 years from now, then we will enable the distribution to plug in to the best blockchain content networks.”
At its core, StayTuned is launching to solve a seemingly simple issue – allow any and all content creators to focus on what they do best – create content and not get distracted by the complexities around it. Let StayTuned handle the rest, and along the way prove the mountain of critics wrong when they doubt that the media industry’s current state and its future outlook. “Everyone is saying, ‘oh, the media industry is dead, the media industry is dying!’ Well I actually think it is the exact opposite, Kassardjian said. “There’s more media and content than ever, it’s just that people don’t understand how to distribute it, measure it and ultimately monetize it.”