BrightTALK Celebrates Its 10-Year Anniversary
I joined BrightTALK over 4 years ago, 8 months prior to the formal launch in September of 2008 of the BrightTALK portal and the BrightTALK Channel offering, marking our entre into the SaaS market. I’ve enjoyed watching BrightTALK develop into an important destination for business professionals to gain information and insight and to share their thought leadership content. I’ve also watched as marketers embrace our video and webinar platform as an important tool in their marketing arsenal. I was intrigued to know more about the 2002 BrightTALK so I took the opportunity of the ten-year anniversary of the formation of the company to talk with the founders Charlie Blackburn, Paul Heald, and Richard Heald and to learn more about their journey building BrightTALK.
What market dynamics did you observe that encouraged you to start BrightTALK?
Paul: There were a range of factors that made BrightTALK possible, including the rapid growth of Internet usage among professionals, the swift adoption of broadband Internet, the emergence of video as a viable communication tool in businesses, the desire of marketing departments to take advantage of the Internet to improve their connection with customers, the increasing acceptance of open source software and SaaS business models in enterprises.
How has the market evolved over the past 10 years and how has BrightTALK responded to these changes?
Charlie: The Internet has changed since 2002! This was still 15 months before MySpace launched. Video on the Internet was typically seen in postage stamp sized windows and was poor quality. In the first dealings with our future clients, our biggest challenge was working out how to stream a decent quality video in a big enough window that made it suitable as a business tool. Since then the usage of video on the Internet has exploded — YouTube’s arrival in 2004 helped — bringing with it a host of video providers making it a difficult market to compete in. At the same time video was taking off we saw a number of webinar providers emerge. This market had less competition because it was hard to do well. We decided to focus our strategic resources on automating the live event experience and in developing the technology that marketers needed. By 2006 it was clear that this market was growing rapidly too and we had to decide how we wanted to compete. By staying focused on the live experience and meeting marketers needs, we developed (and launched in 2008) BrightTALK Channels, a proprietary webinar and video platform, which included access to the BrightTALK website to provide a point of distribution for this high-engagement content. In 2011 we were delighted to more seamlessly incorporate powerful video technology features into our channels, making it possible for BrightTALK to now compete in both the video and webinar markets again.
How has the initial vision of BrightTALK changed over the past years?
Paul: At the outset BrightTALK provided the technologies that helped marketers engage with their customers using video and audio on the Web. Today our vision of the future has grown to include the professionals that these technologies serve. We are now connecting professionals and stimulating the exchange of insight and ideas through live events and videos. We are building dynamic industry communities by helping professionals across all industries accelerate their learning and we are finding this very appealing.
From your perspective, what have been the most exciting developments at BrightTALK?
Richard: The repurposing of www.brighttalk.com in 2008 marked the beginning of BrightTALK rapidly developing a subscriber base of business and industry professionals. This step change, along with the recent investment from North Bridge in October of 2011, means BrightTALK is well positioned to develop and improve the audience experience further in the coming years. Ultimately, this will also benefit our clients through increased engagement, reach and insight.
Charlie: Some of the most exciting developments weren’t planned. We didn’t plan on becoming a company that organizes online events for communities. This is now a major part of our business and makes us more valuable for those communities. Additionally our software has scaled to serve tens of millions of business professionals. This is very exciting!
Looking back over these past 10 years, what are you most proud of?
Paul: The people who have made it possible are our greatest source of pride. Bootstrapped for most of our first 10 years in business meant that we could never afford to pay for the most experienced people. Instead we relied on the talent of the people who joined.
Richard: I echo that thought, the people at BrightTALK are of such high caliber that I’m not only proud, I’m thankful to be part of it.
What do you hope BrightTALK to become in the next decade?
Charlie: We hope BrightTALK will become a powerful brand that business professionals count on across multiple communities and geographies for information, insight and intelligence. We want to fulfill the promises we have made to our colleagues and our investors and continue to innovate and delight our clients.