(Editor’s note: Jeroen Wijering, CEO of JW Player, is our guest today via video at Eyes Wide Open, our international capital/talent exchange program in Eindhoven with American investor Jonathan Blue through Tech Sister Cities. You can see his video comments below.)
When it comes to digital entertainment, it’s not just that everything has changed. It’s that everything is changing every day from the emergence of OTT streaming video channels such as Netflix to the transformation of brands such as Red Bull into media companies.
But the biggest shift might be coming … content creators becoming their own media companies in order to recapture some of the projected $4 billion in net revenue from advertising YouTube and Vimeo and other portals are projected to generate this year.
You might be surprised that the person who set all that in motion did it from little Eindhoven.
Intense, yet friendly, Jeroen Wijering is the creator and co-founder of JW Player, a project he started as a student at Eindhoven’s Design Academy.
In just 11 years, the scale-up has gone from a student project to a business with more than 200 employees. The headquarters is in New York City, with a sales office in London and R&D in Eindhoven, where Wijering has returned from New York, working at BounceSpace offices with a handful of engineers.
This largely unknown company is, in fact, the largest independent video delivery platform, with 1 billion unique users.
JW Player’s list of clients is a who’s who of global media and entertainment brands including:
• Refinery 29
• Washington Post
• Vice Media
• Business Insider
• Global energy drink giant Red Bull – “a brand that acts more like a media company,” Wijering said.
• Celebrity Chef Jaime Oliver
• Amazon Web Service
• Fast Company
In fact, JW Player’s open-source code was used by YouTube and other video sites. “That was a very successful way to essentially market the product,” Wijering said.
There was massive adoption of the video player itself, and that opened the door to JW Player selling other services to big companies and publishers.
Wijering declined to reveal revenue figures but said they’re significant enough he can start the process of going public. Now, the question is, will it be the next Unicorn – startups with billion-dollar valuations – to come out of the Netherlands?
JW Player’s origins date back to 2004 with his creation of the first embedded web player.
The company was founded in 2007. Wijering – like the founders of Shapeways and other startups – had to leave Eindhoven and go to the United States to raise capital.
In 2008, JW Player raised $1 million from angel investors to roll out the company. Led by Graycroft in New York City, JW Player raised its first institutional round in 2013.
With Graycroft again in the lead, JW Player raised a B round in 2015.
Now, JW Player is on a revenue trajectory for an IPO on an American stock exchange no later than the end of 2020, with a final VC round to pay off early investors and maybe make an acquisition or two, Wijering said in a recent interview. And lots of VCs are knocking on his door.
So, what is this incredibly low-profile company that’s disrupting video and – by extension – advertising?
“Think of us as SaaS platform that offers the same tools that YouTube is offering to individual creators,” Wijering said. That includes video ingestion, uploading, metadata, analytics, recommendations about what videos are doing well and what companies should do more of and advertising insertion.”
In late 2018, the name of the game is adding value in the form of metrics and analytics while enabling clients to keep the revenue generated by proprietary video platforms.
JW Player engineers and coders still do delivery and encoding, but now Wijering is focusing more of his engineering talent toward “analytics, recommendations, grabbing signals from the network to provide audience insights as to what (clients) should do.”
JW Player identifies traffic sources and whether they’re sticking around. “We can tell them, ‘you’re getting fewer people from Pinterest, but those fewer people are returning into loyal customers.’ They return next week and the week after that.
“They do 10 minutes of video viewing instead of two minutes of the Facebook referrals. We’re trying to help customers build the right videos, then use them as much as possible so they can expand their audience.
The one thing JW Player doesn’t do is sell advertising, Wijering said “In the end, (clients) grow their revenue. We’re not directly involved with their revenue. That’s their piece of the puzzle.”
But JW Player also doesn’t take half of advertising revenue like other video platforms.
“With us, they pay a SaaS fee and whether they monetize with advertising or subscriptions, that’s up to them,” Wijering said. “How much they want to charge, etc. We just give them the tools to get the video out there and optimize video usage.”
It’s also up to clients to figure out what they should be doing online, he added: “The better defined the audience, the more revenue.”
If this sounds like a company where’d you’d like to work, Wijering tells Dispatches, he’s always looking for talent.
JW Player has a number of openings including:
• Full-stack engineer in Eindhoven. You would help manage internal and user-facing dashboards, eCommerce and direct-sold payments systems, as well as the API’s and data stores that are needed to power these systems.
• Senior account representative in London
The successful candidate will apply their strong communication skills and sales savvy to drive revenue growth in our European market through identifying opportunities and closing deals with some of the top publishers and content creators in the dynamic European media and entertainment space.