One of our favorite Canadians

Earlier today, I sent the following email to the Hulu team

We’ve recently had folks from the early days of Hulu hit their six year anniversaries.  And as expected for any company as it matures, we’ve had some important contributors make the difficult decision to head off to exciting new chapters of their lives beyond Hulu.  That’s part of the natural evolution and maturation process for any company, and I’m proud to see Hulu alums make their mark in other great companies, despite being very sorry to see them go.

It’s with that mix of emotions today that I share one such departure with you:  Jean-Paul (JP) Colaco (“our Chief Canadian Officer”) has decided to move on from Hulu later in October and pursue one of a few new startup opportunities he has in front of him.

Six years ago, JP Colaco and I both got the call to come join a new start-up that was setting out to change the way people find and watch their favorite TV shows.  It wasn’t called Hulu yet and it was a pretty risky opportunity . . . both from our perspectives as well as that of the press, who soon dubbed it “ClownCo”.  It was a tricky joint venture, funded by competitors in the broadcast world, and we all realized that you had to be a little bit crazy to sign on for this adventure.  But despite the risks, we couldn’t help ourselves.  The chance to help change how viewers watched TV was just too great to pass up, as was the opportunity to build a great place to work with the strong culture needed to thread all the needles required to make Hulu a success.  I remember JP in those early days meeting my then 3 year old son, Max, and demonstrating what a fun place Hulu was to work by holding him upside down by his ankles.  Max got the message and believed it, as did the many incredibly talented team members that joined us in the beginning and throughout the years that followed.  And for this great team, JP has served as a tremendous role model in driving truly world class execution but never letting anyone forget how important it is to have a lot of fun along the way.

JP is a Hulu builder through and through. As one of the original team members from the Fall of 2007, JP helped lay the foundation upon which everything since then has been built.  He drove much of the innovation in advertising that Hulu has become known for – including Ad Swap, Ad Selector, and 100% Completion Rate. Most importantly, JP has hired and mentored one of the most talented ad sales teams in the business.  The Hulu advertising team has driven revenue growth that is is truly unparalleled.  And in a testament to JP’s leadership, his team has the bench strength to carry on and continue to knock it out of the park without missing a beat.  That’s one of the highest accolades any leader can receive, and JP has built a fantastic team that will do exactly that.

Though we’re very sorry to lose him, JP will leave us with the company firing on all cylinders in terms of outputs.  2013 so far has been the strongest year yet for Hulu in terms of business results, including revenue and Hulu Plus subscriber growth.  We’re on track for revenue in the neighborhood of a billion dollars this year and subscriber growth remains strong. These great results are allowing us to continue to add great talent—we’ve added more than 90 new hires in the past 90 days.  That’s an incredible rate of growth, especially when we consider how high our bar is for talent.  I couldn’t be more proud of all of you Hulugans out there for staying so focused this year and continuing to deliver for our content partners, advertisers, and most of all, our loyal viewers who’ve made us such a big part of their lives.

JP has played a big role in allowing us to deliver these impressive results, and I’m very proud of what he’s accomplished here. JP and I are working through the transition plan, but in the meantime, please join me in thanking him for all his contributions and wish him the best in all he does in the future.

-Andy


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Q&A With
Gadi Amit

Founder, New Deal Design

Gadi: The development of serendipity in recommendations is very important. An analogy I use is that of a restaurant. If you go to a good restaurant, you don’t always want to see what you’re looking for. You’re looking for surprises. It’s not the expected, it’s the unexpected. You trust in the restaurant’s atmosphere. You don’t know exactly what you’re getting, but you trust their creativity and that you’ll enjoy whatever they serve you.

Do you think it is possible for a streaming service to become that “restaurant” - a trusted source of serendipitous recommendations?

Gadi: I absolutely do. But it is difficult. It’s a long game. It requires them to build trustworthiness with audiences through genuine content recommendations over the years.

Q&A With
Gandi Amit

Found New Deal Design

Gandi: The development of serendipity in recommendations is very important. An analogy I use is that of a restaurant. If you go to a good restaurant, you don’t always want to see what you’re looking for. You’re looking for surprises. It’s not the expected, it’s the unexpected. You trust in the restaurant’s atmosphere. You don’t know exactly what you’re getting, but you trust their creativity and that you’ll enjoy whatever they serve you.

Do you think it is possible for a streaming service to become that “restaurant” -- a trusted source of serendipitous recommendations?

Gandi: I absolutely do. But it is difficult. It’s a long game. It requires them to build trustworthiness with audiences through genuine content recommendations over the years.

Q&A With
Jonathan Miranda

Emerging Strategy Principal, Salesforce

Another expectation among younger generations seems to be personalization. How are you seeing this play out in media?

Jonathan: If you go into the world of advertising and marketing, customized, personalized advertising is more important than ever before. There’s a realization that eight years of funny commercials that we’ve showed everybody probably for the fourth time, doesn’t work anymore. So there’s a lot of companies moving towards specialized advertising.

How does this type of personalization translate to personalizing content beyond advertising? Who’s going to predict what people will want to watch, and do it first?

Jonathan: It’s not about being the first to predict what people want to watch. It's different. It’s about getting viewers to browse. You want to show them the value of all of the money Hulu has spent and the great range of TV and film for them to choose from.

Q&A With
Julie DeTragila

Head of Research & Insights, Hulu

Julie: There are vast differences between the way under 35-year-olds watch TV and over 35-year-olds watch TV. I grew up in a world where there were maybe 10 channels, and my viewing changed as technology and options changed. Younger viewers started from a really different place. Everything has always been on-demand. Anything they ever wanted to see was available to them, and they therefore have different expectations for TV.

How so?

Julie: One of the things we found with Gen Z is that they really want to be immersed in something for a long time. They want to have content that they can live with for a while; it’s like this long, seamless storytelling. They’ll knock off a couple episodes a night and it will last a couple of months. And then they’ll re-watch it a million times over.

What other shifts have you seen happen-with Gen Z but also more broadly-with the rise of streaming?

Julie: For years, television had to deliver a specific rating. Shows had to appeal broadly or else they wouldn’t survive. And those days are long gone because, with streaming services, shows can reach hundreds of thousands of people or tens of thousands of people and still be considered successful. There’s more experimentation with the types of content; we’re not locked into an hour, a half hour, a comedy, etc. The industry can create really niche shows to appeal to niche audiences, but also simultaneously create big, broad experiences that are shared by millions.

Q&A With
Larissa May

Founder, #HalftheStory

Your work focuses a lot on Gen Zs who, for better or worse, are dubbed “digital natives.” How do you think a generation of digitally native audiences view digital content differently than older generations?

Larissa: I think for young people digital content is a way they’re able to explore their own identities through the story... They want to see themselves and their stories in the content that they’re engaging with.

Tell us a little more about this digital content as Gen Z’s form of self-reflection.

Larissa: Digital content is sort of like a currency. I find that young people want to watch things that their friends are watching so that they can have conversations about it. For example, with Euphoria, young people were just kind of in love with the characters. It was very timely and a bit provocative, and then there was a way that they could see themselves in these stories and connect with their friends about the topics and ideas in the show.

And then also they could almost embody these characters in their own life. I really do think that the TV shows that young people are buying into are actually influencing their culture and their trends and even their language that they’re using.

Q&A With
Richard Frankel​

Global Creative Director, Spotify

What does the future of personalization look like?

Richard: I think it’s all down to trust. We're going to see more opportunity on platforms like Hulu and Spotify where the user trusts us.

That’s really interesting. Another area we wanted to explore is podcasts, and their relationship to video. For example, the show Homecoming is an adaptation of a podcast; the podcast Office Ladies is a spin-off from a TV show. Why do you think the two formats work so well together?

Richard: Anything at all that drives conversation in pop culture, and TV does a lot of that, is worthy of consideration in a podcast environment. Any of these conversations can become multiple audio streams that evolve with experts, interviews, and all kinds of narrative threads that can flesh out characters, or narrative development, or whatever's happening in those shows.