When a startup cofounder steps back and the company's board appoints another to serve in his place as CEO, it’s often a signal that the startup is planning to scale — and scale big.
This could be the case with Vidyo (Hackensack), a provider of cloud-based video-conferencing software. In February, Vidyo cofounder Ofer Shapiro took that step back and the Vidyo board appointed the company’s former chief revenue officer, Eran Westman, to be president, CEO, and a member of the board. Shapiro is now vice chairman of the company he helped found.
Vidyo is a venture-backed company. According to CrunchBase, the company has raised a total of $136.4 million in 11 rounds from 14 investors.
David Maldow, of the website Let’s Do Video, wrote, “In terms of business, Vidyo has matured from a technology company in a product based market, to a leading platform provider in a service based market.”
“Many industry analysts have criticized Vidyo over the years for being a round peg of technology, trying to fit into the square hole of VC [Video Conferencing] sales,” Maldow continued. “Vidyo is no longer the odd duck of the VC industry, they are now a perfect fit, with a top of the line video platform with name recognition and reputation, as service providers are looking to add video to their offerings.”
After receiving a Bachelor of Law degree from Bar-Ilan University, Westman worked at Ceragon Networks, a Paramus-based wireless backhaul company, where he served as VP EMEA, president Asia-Pacific, Executive Vice President , worldwide sales and EVP global business. When he came to Vidyo, in February 2014, he was tasked with building and leading a sales organization at the company.
NJTechWeekly.com interviewed Westman via e-mail.
In 2014, you concentrated primarily on building Vidyo’s sales force and delivering results from that. Can you discuss how you went about this task?
Yes, last year we focused on sales and growth, and we subsequently won a lot of large enterprise customers and important partners. We did this by honing in on specific verticals. Healthcare continues to be a big priority, but we also saw a lot of success in financial services and focused on going after medium to large enterprises.
We wanted customers to understand the value proposition of what Vidyo offers, a software-based portfolio and platform that can integrate into any application. We were successful in this, and our strong performance shows that our message is resonating with the market.
As you step into the CEO role, what do you see as the top three priorities for Vidyo during the coming year, and why?
The top three priorities are continued innovation and technical leadership, growing our key verticals and strengthening our existing customer relationships and, finally, meeting all of the financial goals we’ve set for ourselves. The company is beginning an exciting chapter, and I am looking forward to being a part of creating new stories of success and innovation!
Our technical leadership has been a key differentiator for us, and we want to ensure that we continue this tradition of innovation. Not only have we been awarded more than 80 patents in video conferencing and collaboration, we also drove the standardization of scalable H.264 and H.265 SHVC [Scalable High Efficiency Video Coding]. We are leaders in high-quality multipoint video support for WebRTC [Web Real Time Communications] and have shown that our software-based platform is the most scalable visual communications solution on the market. We have big customer names like Nintendo, CERN and the Department of Defense.
Growth in key verticals and the nurturing of our existing relationships will help us meet our financial goals, and that will set us up for success in the future.
As the press release made clear, you’ve been brought in basically to take Vidyo to new levels of growth. How do you plan to achieve this?
During this growth period we will continue our leadership in the space, focus on sales execution and aggressively seek out new opportunities, not just in the U.S. but globally, all while empowering our teams to make an impact.
Another goal for companies at this stage — especially for venture-based companies — is to add value. Where do you see this coming from?
We can add a lot of value by growing our verticals, such as healthcare, financial services and education. As I’ve mentioned before, healthcare has grown significantly; and with customers like American Well, Philips, Kaiser and Mercy, we have established ourselves as the premiere provider of video communication technology for integrated telemedicine solutions.
We’re fundamentally changing the dynamics of healthcare delivery. Vidyo’s unique platform and architecture alleviates pains commonly associated with telemedicine — like high cost, difficult implementation, limited reach, and poor performance — to deliver a solution that is beneficial for providers and patients alike.
Financial services is gaining ground as well. We’ve signed several large players in the financial services industry to support their video and telebanking service offerings. Video communication is proving to be a true value-add for this industry, especially in personal and retail banking, where one-to-one, immediate and personal attention is key.
Education is another key vertical we’d like to move forward on. We’ve already experienced fantastic responses from our education customers, including Arizona State University, Carnegie Mellon and Montclair State University, as well as other educational institutions across the globe.
Will you be taking Vidyo into new directions during the coming year or so? If so, which directions?
I want to build a strong company and focus on profitability. I think we’ve been very successful thus far, and do not expect to make any dramatic changes in terms of company direction. We have unbeatable technology, a great team and a bright future ahead; it’s my job to ensure that we get there by driving growth and profitability quarter to quarter.
What is your management style? Will you be making any organizational changes in the company as you put your stamp on it, to bring about efficiencies or make it ready for further scaling?
I am very hands-on on with my teams. I believe it’s important to provide the tools and resources that our sales and management teams need for success. This involves not only training, but learning from past mistakes. Evaluating where you’ve been is a great step in getting to where you want to be. Team morale is a key to success; we have a great team here at Vidyo that we will continue to build upon.
What is Vidyo’s relationship with New Jersey? Will the company continue to stay here? How many people do you employ here now? Are there plans for expansion?
We have more than 140 New Jersey-based employees, and we are happy to be here. The core of our business is here, including all of our R&D. There is a growing tech scene in New Jersey, and we plan to keep our headquarters here in Hackensack.