Michael Chang and Andy Choi, the founders of mobile ad network Greystripe, are taking the reins at a new company. However, it’s not the hot new startup you might be expecting. Instead, they’re joining YesVideo, a company founded back in 1999.
The pair has invested $5 million in the company. Chang is now YesVideo’s CEO and has joined the company’s board, while Choi is the new CTO. (The photo on the left shows Chang and Choi at YesVideo’s Santa Clara facility.)
YesVideo takes personal videos in old formats like VHS and 8 millimeter film and digitizes them, so that they’re stored online and on DVD. The process takes less than three weeks, and customers get their originals back when it’s done. This sounds useful (the company says it has already served 7 million customers) — but not, perhaps, like a business with a big growth opportunity or real long-term prospects. Chang admits that one of the common questions he’s been getting is, “Isn’t that a dying business?” His answer? That there are an estimated 1 to 1.5 billion units of personal video still out there, and the need to convert them is becoming more urgent as the material degrades.
YesVideo is also starting to move beyond digitization. As Chang puts it, “Once the content is in the cloud, now what can we do with it?”
So YesVideo has started to build sharing products, so that customers can eventually take their converted videos and easily post them to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Chang also says he could imagine an app in the future where users could watch YesVideo content. He argues that there’s currently a gap in online video — you can find longer, commercial content on sites like Netflix, and you can find shorter, personal videos on YouTube, but there’s no place for stuff that’s both longer and personal. (A skeptic might counter that personal videos are only bearable because they’re short, but we’ll see …)
As for how this all came together, Chang notes that after ValueClick acquired Greystripe last year for $70 million, neither he nor Choi had to stick around to wait for an earnout. Still, they stayed at ValueClick for nine months, and Chang says he still feels good about how Greystripe is doing. But he also acknowledges that “things change” and says, “We just decided that it was time to move on.” Meanwhile, YesVideo’s founder and then-CEO Sai-Wai Fu was ready to move on, and Chang was already an angel investor in the company, so the two started talking and decided that this would be the right move.