As is almost always the case with new companies, VidMob began with the kernel of a big insight. But the vision surrounding that insight was wrong in some cases and unpolished in others. We saw a world that was changing the way it communicates—from text and images to video. And we recognized the pressure this would put on every company and organization. Clearly, the amount of video content produced was going to have to expand exponentially. This part of it was right.
But exponential growth is usually met with purely technological solutions. And in nearly all of our early venture meetings, even if we were able to convince the investor of the macro opportunity, one after another the meetings ended with some variant of, “But couldn’t you solve that with an algorithm?” You see, our vision was different. And as more and more money flowed into either purely algorithmic editors or template-based easy video creation tools, we remained unable to land the big backer. The beam of venture interest is narrow, and we were outside of the light.
More than Just an Algorithm
We had something that was far more important than money. We had a unique belief about how this problem would ultimately be solved and a mission that flowed out of that. We believed that communication without emotional resonance is just noise, and that the only way to truly connect with an individual was through human creativity. Our view was that the challenge was not how to build technology that could replace human creativity. It was how to build technology that could support and extend human creativity. If we could create a technology platform that could make human creativity more accessible and affordable, the output of that solution would—by necessity—create a lot of jobs.
It was already apparent in 2014 that automation, AI, and globalization would all conspire to put pressure on basic human labor. And with jobs that indexed high for both empathy and creativity seemingly making up one of the few labor segments that would be protected from these trends, this became our rallying cry before we even had a logo. VidMob was going to create a million jobs. This became our measuring stick, and our view was that if we succeeded in this metric, then it was likely that many other important business KPI’s would fall into place as well.
This mission also formed the narrative arc of a story. And we found that when you believe your own story, other people will believe it too. So even when our business didn’t jump out of the gate, we remained undaunted. After all, wasn’t it all just part of the story?
In time, we did begin to succeed. In retrospect, it was only a handful of months, but at the time it felt like years. That said, we didn’t succeed because of our product vision. In fact, our vision was wrong. We were too focused on the fact that there were 2 billion smartphones to initially recognize that our real opportunity was in building the production layer of the web. But our mission and story were bigger, and they attracted people that were far more talented than we deserved.
Adapting so that Creativity Can Thrive
And so, our product began to evolve rapidly. Today, our platform can legitimately be viewed as the beginnings of an operating system for creativity, and our deep integrations into every major social platform enable us to help our clients achieve things that even we didn’t believe were possible when we began. But the evolution of our product is not the subject of this post. To be honest, it’s not even the development that I’m most excited about.
Don’t get me wrong, our product vision is incredible, and we believe we are only scratching the surface of the true client value that we can ultimately deliver. But our mission is evolving alongside our product, and that development is what fertilizes the soil for tomorrow’s growth. We still aim to create a million jobs, but this vision has become too narrow and misses critical aspects of issues that we now feel a responsibility to try to address. This is why you will start to hear many of VidMob’s communications talking about a broader attempt at evolving creativity for the better. This has become our new bar, and it is what everything we do is measured against.
To succeed in this mission, we need to break free of certain traditional conditions:
Creativity should not be made to feel smaller on a small screen.
Too frequently, marketers are told that brand-building and storytelling can only be done on television. This is a false premise, and it hurts marketers. The rise of Stories and the rollout of new formats like Stories Carousel gives marketers the means to communicate with audiences in ways never before possible. The intimacy of this format is a powerful tool in the right hands.
Creativity should not be finite, isolated, and uninformed.
Every marketer is surrounded by data. In some ways, this is not a new condition. But there are two important changes. One, rapid advances in computer vision and AI are powering the birth of “creative data.” For the first time, creative attributes can be tagged at scale and, when compared with performance data, meaningful insights can be derived. But people are used to doing nothing with their data. And this brings us to the second important change: making data actionable. VidMob’s Agile Creative Studio TM is designed to integrate data and action in a way that makes “create and learn” more than an academic philosophy. Our clients are doing it today, and it is having a significant impact on their marketing results.
Creativity should not be the voice of a privileged few.
For too long, the creative industry has been embarrassingly bereft of diversity. Too male, too white, too centered in a small number of urban centers, and too similar in its approach to every problem. We believe VidMob’s network model is designed perfectly to break free of these legacy conditions, and we are tripling down on this as a focus for our business. There are talented people in every city in our country and across the globe. There are talented women who want to define their own balance between being a mother and being a professional creator. There are talented people who are viewed as too old to be relevant. There are talented people of every color, gender, ability, sexual orientation, and lifestyle preference whose creativity should be found, and we are making this part of our mission.
Creativity should not be constrained by the inflexible demands of physicality.
Physicality puts pressures on cost that are unnecessary and leads to lower payouts going to the actual creators. By using technology to diminish the power of physicality, we can shift the balance of power from capital to labor. This isn’t Marxism. It’s just good business practice, and, when you do this, creators thrive.
And this is the glue that binds it all together. Our creativity will be designed to thrive with every format on every screen. Our community will thrive specifically because of its diversity—in ideas, experiences, and background. Our clients will thrive because they are exposed to data they never knew was possible and will be given the tools to act on it in real-time. All of this is done in order to help human creators thrive.
We are evolving creativity for the better because we believe that when creators thrive, businesses thrive. And if we can help enough businesses thrive, on one happy day in the not too distant future, we’ll create that millionth job and will be forced to evolve our mission a little bit more.