Business

Go with your heart: Make an impact at JW Player, a global company with the energy of a startup

In the tech world, there’s always a moment in time when a precious few companies emerge with just the right culture. Let’s call them “Goldilocks Companies.” Not too big. Not too small. Not too bureaucratic. Not too chaotic.

Just right.

Like JW Player.

With Dutch roots and American capital, JW Player has been international since the first day, innovating embedded video on the web. In other words, co-founders Jeroen Wijering, from Eindhoven, and American Dave Otten created the technology that makes video sharing and hosting possible, forever changing the online experience.

Now, JW Player is a multinational tech company crafting proprietary video solutions for global clients, with offices in New York, London and Eindhoven. JWP is the leading video platform providing companies with a scalable and easy way to build, run and grow their video-driven businesses.

Today, JWP powers video for hundreds of thousands of companies, including half of the Comscore top 50 sites and many of the best-known media, broadcasting, online learning and online fitness companies across the globe. Each month 1 billion viewers consume video on the JWP video platform across 2.7 billion devices.

Yet, join their team and it’s still possible to work with the founders, close to the decision-making.

In short, JW Player is a place where you can make an impact.

A tradition of innovation

Wijering has been disrupting the software scene since he was at Design Academy of Eindhoven and developed the code that enables video to be integrated into websites, the technical foundation of YouTube and most of the video-sharing websites. Now, JW Player creates software that enables thousands of clients as diverse as Accuweather and Viacom to give their audiences the best possible video experience.

JW Player is all about democratizing video, Wijering says. “We basically want to give users the tools to deliver and monetize video … so you don’t have to be CNN and have 50 engineers on staff. You might have a YouTube cooking channel, but you can still increase your revenue. That’s what we mean by ‘democratizing.’ ”

The concept has worked, taking JW Player from a startup to a major global media power and software innovator in just a few years, with more than 100 engineers on staff and significant revenue. “Yeah, we’re not the 10-person startup anymore,” Jeroen says. “We’re not so small that we’re going to fade away next year. We’re here to stay. But we are still in that spot where you can experience various aspects of our business, rather than being siloed.”

This year, he projects hiring 60 to 70 people, up from 20 to 30 last year. And he’s doing it amid a War for Talent, in which talent has increasing leverage and new post-COVID ideas about how and where they want to work.

An opportunity to make an impact

That’s cool, Jeroen says.

About half the employees are in the United States and half are in Europe, specifically Eindhoven and London. Most of the hires do not come from universities but from applied sciences schools.

On some level, he’s offering what he wanted as the 26-year-old co-founder of JW Player: a stimulating, challenging job with compatible colleagues working with leaders who have a clear vision about where the company is going. And the opportunity to make an impact.

JW Player has a solid record of getting “the bright young minds” out of universities, with a retention far above the industry standard, Jeroen said. That’s because JW Player allows them the flexibility to explore various aspects of engineering. “We have employees who are engineers who go into sales engineering, which is making sure that the sales rep sells what’s actually available. So, that’s much more of a social skill set.” 

Jeroen goes to tech conferences and meets the best and brightest. That talent is reading in TechCrunch or Tweakers about the big American tech companies. But he points out they’ll have no impact in those companies. “Do you really want to be engineer No. 10,387? No, you want to have impact,” he said.

“This is a not a company where it takes years to get stuff done.”

Recruiting senior people with perks, work options

Now, the big challenge is finding people with technical backgrounds who have the desire and personalities to be managers in a company that gives its people a lot of latitude.

JW Player is hiring product managers and engineering leads, people who tend to be a little bit older and farther along their career paths. They’re looking for a stable company with a supportive structure, but one where they can still make an impact.

What gets them in the door is perks. JW Player executives take the pulse of contemporary talent “and pick the things that are really meaningful,” he says, including:

• Flexible working options such as working from home, being hybrid or completely in office

• Generous one time lump sum for home office setup and monthly stipend to cover other expenses while working out of your home office

• No recurring meetings on Fridays, allowing our team to have a dedicated heads-down day to catch up on work with minimal interruptions

• Caregiver stipend 

As the pandemic has opened the door to options of working in a more location-flexible environment, JW Player’s management team and executives wanted to offer an office perk to full-time employees. As a result, the company decided to offer full-time employees a box of snacks every two months, containing items that are tailored to employee’s preference, whether it be healthy snacks or indulgences like sweets.

Bottom line: JW Player is very much a young company that appeals to talent who are looking for something a bit different. JW Player has the energy of a startup with the revenue growth of an established company. Still disruptive, still impactful.

“We recently hired an engineering lead here in the Netherlands who was working for a big Amsterdam hotel discount website. And then we got a product manager here in the Netherlands who was working for a payroll system,” Jeroen said. The candidate had two offers – one from a mega-successful Dutch fintech company and one from JW Player.

“The product manager said all his friends were like, ‘Are you crazy? The fintech company!’ And then he picked JW Player,” Jeroen said.

“He said, ‘The brain picked (the fintech company) and the heart picked JW player.’ ”

Discover open job positions on the JW Player careers website.

You can read more about JW Player here in Dispatches’ archive.

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