Once in a while, morning pancakes win over morning meetings. #CTO
This week we are featuring a photo from A Cowboy’s Life. How are you making memories this Fall?
Betty has been the lead film splicer at YesVideo for over 10 years, and is making the switch from caring for film to caring for her grandkids (lucky kids, indeed). From our entire YesVideo family, Thank You so much for your dedicated hard work, and big Congratulations on achieving this wonderful milestone.
Happy Retirement, Betty! Best wishes on all your future endeavors.
Dear YesVideo Customers,
Happy Holidays! I hope that everyone has a safe and relaxing time with their family and friends.
I want to take this opportunity to send a sincere “Thank You” to all our customers, followers, and friends who have been able to enjoy a preserved memory that has passed through our doors.
2013 has been a year filled with so much growth and evolution that I have never been so excited about the future. We will continue to push forward with new ideas, improvements, and a focus to provide the best customer experience possible.
I thank each of you for your feedback, your engagement, and your business. It is your trust in confiding in us to handle your priceless memories that has led us to grow to the largest memory factory in the world.
YesVideo wishes you all a Happy New Year filled with happiness and good fortune. See you all in 2014!
We’re excited to announce that YesVideo was featured an article on Bloomberg BusinessWeek this past week. The article covers some behind-the-scenes activity on the spontaneous (and even memorable) events that occur around the facility, along with a YesVideo analysis through the mind of talented Brad Stone.
Read below for the complete article, or visit the BusinessWeek article directly at: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-16/yesvideo-moves-home-movies-from-old-formats-to-the-cloud.
Photography for the Article
For a touch of imagery, there are also some captivating photos taken by Ike Edeani who managed to capture a special delicacy of the work that happens at YesVideo on a daily basis.
His visual story can be seen in the article, as well as in his personal blog: http://blog.ikedeani.com/post/50909670974/last-week-bloomberg-businessweek-sent-me-down-to.
But for every shoot, there are a few winners that don’t quite make the cut – which still deserve to be seen. These photos were included in the “outtakes” post – http://blog.ikedeani.com/post/51001961795/outtakes-from-last-weeks-shoot-for-bloomberg.
By Brad Stone on May 16, 2013
Jennifer Brown is tearing up. She’s converting early-2000s camcorder footage into digital files, watching as a woman’s colleagues celebrate her promotion until the woman’s boyfriend appears out of nowhere, gets down on one knee, and proposes. When a group of passersby interrupts Brown quietly weeping at her computer screen, she gestures at the proposal by way of explanation. “She is totally surprised,” Brown says, “and now I’m all flustered.”
Brown is a digital media specialist on the operations floor at YesVideo, one of the most curious companies in Silicon Valley. There are plenty of digital transfer services that rescue the old home movies and fraying photographs an estimated 90 million U.S. families are keeping in their closets and basements, usually converting them to DVD. Some are mail-order services; many others are local operations for people who don’t trust FedEx (FDX) with their memories.
What’s different about YesVideo is its scale and technology: In the past decade it’s become the go-to company where Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), Costco (COST), and other retailers outsource customer conversion requests. (Prices vary according to media format; for example, YesVideo will convert two hours of VHS videotape or 125 feet of movie film for $20.) Now under new management, it’s planning to go well beyond the DVD and make all video available to customers at any time via their smartphones and tablets. “We think there are 1.5 billion units of old media in the U.S. alone sitting out there,” says Michael Chang, an entrepreneur who took over the company last year in a $5 million buyout of some of its original investors.
YesVideo was founded in 1999 by Sai Wai Fu, a Shanghai-born microchip designer who’d worked at Intel (INTC) and reasoned that families besides his must also have piles of home movies gathering dust in obsolete formats. The startup made slow progress over a decade, striking deals with retailers and opening footage-processing offices in Santa Clara, Calif., and Atlanta. In its early years, YesVideo raised $20 million from a group of investors including now-bankrupt Kodak and Polaroid. The operation has been profitable, but modestly so, and in 2012 Fu sold out to Chang and his partner, Andy Choi, who’d sold mobile-ad network Greystripe the year before to online marketing company ValueClick (VCLK). They have bigger plans. “Within the next five years everyone will have connected televisions, and our belief is that personal movies have to be the killer application,” Chang says. He wants YesVideo to become a kind of premium YouTube—a one-stop service for storing and sharing favorite videos.
In the past year, YesVideo’s new managers have rebuilt the company with an eye toward cloud services and exploiting the latest in online sharing technology. One of the first moves by Choi, who is now chief technology officer, was to use his personal credit card to open an account with Amazon.com’s (AMZN) cloud computing unit, Amazon Web Services. Customer video now resides on Amazon’s servers, and its content delivery network streams YesVideo to customers. It also says it will soon start using its Elastic Transcoder service to convert video to formats that are playable on any smartphone, tablet, or PC. “I imagine we are a midsize account at best,” Chang says, “but we’re growing quickly and Amazon has been giving us a lot of attention recently.”
Surrounded by chip companies and Web startups, YesVideo’s 25,000-square-foot Santa Clara production facility sticks out. It hums with the staccato rhythms of old movie projectors and slide carousels. There’s dedicated floor space for VHS, Betamax, 16mm, and Super 8 film, and even standard 8mm film, a format invented in the 1930s. One room is devoted to photo albums, with each page digitized using a high-resolution camera. In another, used to convert slides, YesVideo engineers have cut holes in the sides of a half-dozen vintage Kodak Carousel projectors and inserted Nikon (7731) D10 digital cameras to directly capture each slide. The company buys many of its retro players and replacement parts on EBay (EBAY). “You won’t be able to recreate this business in about three years” because there won’t be enough working equipment, says YesVideo engineer Rolf Breuer.
Overhead video cameras monitor YesVideo’s operations floor, and batches of customer media are stored in gray trash cans, which are secured with locks and labeled in large letters: “Caution: Customer’s memories inside.” The company’s 300 employees are supposed to review each video to ensure a high-quality transfer and to prevent infractions of the user agreement, such as its ban on home pornography. Like the weeping Brown, employees sometimes find themselves drawn in further during the conversion process, when the videos play out in real time on their computer screens. They say they see many birthdays and weddings and a lot of bad dancing, but some clips stand out. One employee recalls seeing an old 8mm black-and-white film of a safari that encountered a lion on the savanna. The movie ended abruptly, with the lion charging the group and the camera falling to the ground.
Over the next two years, Chang wants to expand YesVideo’s nascent operations in Japan and Britain. In February the company introduced an app that lets customers view their converted media on the iPhone, and it plans to release a similar app for the iPad this summer. Chang says YesVideo is developing premium services such as video editing software and a facial-recognition tool—to allow customers to quickly identify all their videos in which specific persons make an appearance. Another service coming this summer, called Snapshot, will let users print a photograph from individual frames.
“We think that once we’re able to access more of those 90 million households with old media in their closets, we can pivot the business from storage and add value on top of the video,” says Chang, who imagines charging $10 a month for the service and sharing that revenue with retailers. “Not to get too cheesy about it, but I think everybody here has the thought that what we are doing is pretty special. We are unlocking people’s memories.”
The bottom line: The go-to digital conversion company for major U.S. retailers wants to become a premium YouTube for users’ favorite videos.
Completed orders are stacked ceiling-high today. Their last stop at YesVideo, as they wait for their dedicated UPS truck to arrive for their trip back to their rightful owners.
This week we are featuring a photo from Erika Price Designs.
This past March, some of our Blog Ambassadors paid YesVideo a visit to meet the team and tour YesVideo’s headquarters in Santa Clara, CA.
After a day of fun to get to know one another, and a first-time-ever “Easter Egg Hunt YesVideo Tour”, the Ambassadors got to learn YesVideo from the ground-up. Before their farewell, we sat down for a little unscripted Q&A to reflect on their visit.
Thanks for the great memories, Bloggers!
The YesVideo Norcross team of over 30-strong runners after completing their race at Susan G. Komen Cure for the Greater Atlanta this past weekend. Proudly uniting to raise awareness and fundraising the fight against breast cancer.
This week we are featuring a photo from Amy at The Breezy Mama.
Today’s guest post is from Lisa, YesVideo’s Director of Customer Service. She goes behind the scenes to explain the safety measures we follow to make sure every order we receive is returned safe and sound.
At YesVideo we understand that you are entrusting us with your precious and irreplaceable memories. We take this responsibility extremely seriously and treat your memories as we would treat our own, like gold.
As the person responsible for customer satisfaction, I am particularly sensitive about this topic. I am very proud of the measures that our company takes to protect your memories, and I was part of the design and implementation of many of these security measures.
All of our touch points with your order are under surveillance. From the moment your order lands at our door we have our eyes on it. And if you use one of our pre-paid labels to ship your order, we monitor your shipment as it makes its way to us. We have a great relationship with the shipping carriers. We work together to scan in each package, and cross reference counts and tracking numbers to ensure that we have an accurate record of what we receive.
As we open up your order we place a unique barcoded ID on each piece of media which links back to your order record. This allows us to easily identify and track your media at every point in our transfer process.
Once the transfer process has completed and the discs have been created, your order will complete what is known in our world as “Order Fulfillment”. This is a crucial step in our process, and our last touch point before your order leaves our building.
During this process, we bring up your order record and the system lists all of the items that correspond to your order. This list consists includes your original media, DVD disks and cover sheets for the DVDs. We complete the inventory of your order by scanning the barcode on each item in your order. This ensures that we have the correct DVDs matching to each piece of original media. This ensures that we have both the correct number of DVDs, and the correct DVDs matching to each original media item. So, if you ordered 5 copies and we have only scanned 4 copies the system will not allow the order to be completed. Similarly, if a DVD does not match the barcode on a tape – the system also restricts completing the order.
Once we have fulfilled and sealed your order, it is boxed up and shipped back to you via UPS. The same handoff that we began with when we received your order is repeated when we hand your order over to UPS.
Our security measures don’t end when the order leaves our hands. We even keep a back-up copy on our secure servers – just in case. We can use this back-up copy to re-create your memories should any issues arise.
Safely returning your order back to you is our top priority. We pride ourselves on the safety measures we have in place for the handling of your order so much that we offer a $1500 guarantee. We are constantly finding ways to improve our processes and further our efforts to water proof our security. I hope this gives you a sense of the security measures that we have in place at YesVideo. If you have any specific questions on this topic feel free to send me an email, I would be more than happy to answer your questions.
Director of Customer Service
Today’s post is from Sharleen, YesVideo’s Director of Marketing Communications. She shares her report of last week’s Golden Gate Smackdown.
YesVideo, along with VSCpr, Tandem Capital, and Xtreme Labs sponsored the first annual Golden Gate Smackdown in San Francisco last Wednesday. About 200 techies, reporters and VCs gathered at the Mezzanine for an invitation only mixer in the form of…a ping pong tournament!
Our CEO, Michael, and I found out just days before that we were 2 of the lucky 64 to be vying for the crown…and $1000 towards a charity of our choice. We immediately confessed to each other that our table tennis skills fell a little short of Olympic-caliber. So a couple hours before heading up to the Smackdown, we quietly snuck out of our headquarters and into City Beach, desperately hoping that 10 minutes of practice would save us from a night of embarrassment.
At the Mezzanine we checked in and picked up our official YesVideo headbands. Yessss!
We met up with some of our YesVideo teammates and were able to enter Bill, our mobile developer, into the 64th and final spot. An experienced player, he would surely make up for our novice showing.
Michael and I were predictably smacked down in our first round matches, and Bill advanced a few rounds in the bracket. But in the end it was Saad Kahn of CMEA capital who eliminated Jordan Meyer of Ustream for the ginormous cup.
The open bar featured the Fireball, a bold shot of cinnamon schnapps shaken with Tabasco sauce. I was not so brave, but instead happy to see the Kung Fu Tacos truck parked out back to feed the famished ping pong stars.
The evening was closed out by a live blast-from-the-past performance by Shock G of Digital Underground. Both Shock G and his alter-ego “Humpty Hump” brought back the 90’s hip hop that flashed me back to high school and still occupies most of my iPod today. With some help from the VSCpr crew, I even got to meet him backstage!
All in all, the first annual Golden Gate Smackdown was a huge success. We were happy to be among the sponsors and to meet new folks in the tech world while spending some quality offsite time with our YesVideo teammates.
My next project: convincing Michael that our office needs a ping pong table, to get these underdogs ready for next year’s Smackdown!
This week we are featuring a special moment capture in photo from Marvelous Mommy.