Over the past several years, Los Angeles-based ZEFR (f.k.a. Movieclips) has been focused on getting Hollywood studios to let it license their movies and create clips of their films to put on YouTube. But it’s recently added a new business focused on helping content creators across a number of verticals to monetize content that gets posted on YouTube. Now, it’s going beyond just its home U.S. market and taking on the world, with a key international hire to expand overseas.
ZEFR has hired Daniel Adams as its VP of international biz dev, which will make him responsible for the company’s partnerships with media companies in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Adams has a ton of experience working with content providers through his previous gig at Dailymotion, where he was VP of international content. He’ll be opening up ZEFR’s London office, which is the company’s first international outpost.
For ZEFR, going international makes a whole lot of sense. For now, the company is all about YouTube, and 70 percent of YouTube’s traffic comes from outside the U.S. In addition to licensing movie content from major film studios — which was the legacy Movieclips business — ZEFR has been working with content producers to identify and monetize videos submitted by other users. It’s that second part of the business that Adams will be mostly focusing on building out, striking deals with media companies internationally to help them cash in on videos submitted by their biggest fans.
Co-founder Zach James told me by phone that ZEFR’s product is for big content owners, and “it doesn’t matter where they are.” The company wants to aggressively move into the music, tv, and sports segments in major European markets, which is why it’s launching the new London office.
But Adams wasn’t the only interesting hire ZEFR has made recently: The company has also been building out its engineering team, recently nabbing a few individuals from the old BetterWorks team. Office perks startup BetterWorks was known in the L.A. community for hiring very talented engineers scouted by Silicon Valley founders George Ishii, formerly of Geni, and Farmville co-creator Sizhao Yang. The company apparently had a very competitive process for hiring, and brought on employees from tech companies like Twitter and Salesforce.
When it became known that BetterWorks was shutting down, there was a lot of interest in employees there, according to James. But ZEFR was able to recruit two top engineers and a product manager from the now-defunct startup.
In total, ZEFR has 13 engineers on staff and is looking to staff up more. To help with that, it’s hired Rebecca Stillman, a recruiter out of Zynga who is tasked with helping to attract some Silicon Valley engineering talent to move to Southern California. “We’re focused on finding great engineers that want to be in nice weather,” James said. Other perks come from working with a startup that is growing, but has already overcome many of its early-stage hurdles. And working at the convergence of where media meets technology, which few folks outside of L.A. get to do.
ZEFR has raised about $29 million since being founded in late 2009, including an $18.5 million round led by U.S. Venture Partners, with participation from MK Capital, Shasta Ventures, SoftTech VC, First Round Capital, Richmond Park Partners, and Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise. The company has about 100 employees now, and is located in sunny Venice, Calif.