For years, the TV alive belvedere and accouterments maker Roku has had to acknowledgment the aforementioned catechism a lot: With Apple, Google, Amazon and added tech giants allusive for ascendancy of the alive room, are you doomed?
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Sure, that is some boxy competition. But on the latest adventure of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, Roku CEO Anthony Wood explained that, actually, those companies are not as alarming as they ability seem.
“Those companies acclimated to be baby and they had competitors and they, like commonly happens in the tech business, aback Google for archetype started search, well, Yahoo was huge and who would accept anticipation you could alpha a new chase company?” Wood recalled. “In the tech business, above technology about wins and tech companies basically attempt on how acute their advisers are and the affection of their products.”
And in his view, Roku’s technology is superior. Plus, Apple et al are aggravating to accommodated beyond cardinal goals with TV alive devices, application them as a trojan horse to get consumers absorbed on iOS (or Android, or the Alexa platform).
“We’re abundant added focused,” Wood said. “All we do is we appear to assignment every day and we anticipate about how to accomplish TV better. Those companies, yes they’re abundant companies, but they appear to assignment cerebration about how can I acquaint a agglomeration of shoes, how can I be bigger at search, how can I acquaint added phones? TV is on their account but it’s at the basal of their list.”
You can accept to Recode Media wherever you get your podcasts — including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts and Overcast.
Below, we’ve aggregate a abounding archetype of Peter’s chat with Anthony.
Peter Kafka: We’re actuality with Anthony Wood, CEO and architect of Roku. Welcome, Anthony.
Anthony Wood: Hi Peter, acknowledgment for accepting me.
Yeah. I’m aggravating to bethink the aftermost time we sat and talked for a while. I anticipate it was years ago. I anticipate it was on a date in LA.
That’s right. I bethink that.
I asked you all the accepted questions, which is, “You’re activity to get ashamed by Apple, ashamed by Google, ashamed by Amazon. What’s activity to happen?” That was years ago. Since then, you went public?
I arrested the bazaar cap this morning, the company’s account about $7 billion. So things are activity well.
Yeah, we went accessible a year ago and business is great. It’s an alarming time to be in the alive business.
Yeah, I’m autograph about addition aggregation that wants to accession a agglomeration of money and you are now allotment of their pitch, which is, “if Roku can go public, afresh we care to be able to accession this abundant money at a billion dollar appraisal because there’s allowance for lots of companies now to participate in the alive boom.”
One of the challenges with Roku activity accessible was this acumen that we’re a accouterments company, which I anticipate that’s abundantly gone away.
Because you acclimated to acquaint accouterments and you still do.
We still acquaint hardware. Our ambition for affairs accouterments is to body alive accounts, we’re not aggravating to accomplish money on hardware. My point was aloof that that was a claiming for us. And so, we spent a lot of time with investors acknowledgment our business model, which is about casework and advertising, agreeable distribution.
I was account this address afresh of a aggregation that was activity accessible and I was account their roadshow accouter and they said, “yeah, we accept a account business, you should anticipate of us like Roku.” I thought, wow, we charge accept been acknowledged in acceptable bodies we accept a account business.
That’s great. You charge some agnate of the “Netflix and chill” if you absolutely appetite to breach through. I anticipate that’s allegedly added a brace of billion dollars to Reed Hastings’s bazaar cap.
Yeah. That’s allegedly the acumen they’re successful.
You accept a longstanding accord with Netflix?
Yes. I’ve accepted Netflix for a continued time. I acclimated to assignment there for a while.
You acclimated to assignment there. And initially, aback you guys started the company, you were affectionate of a Netflix-adjacent company, right? The antecedent adventure was … You acquaint the story.
Roku was started in 2002. We congenital alive media products. We had internet radios, we had high-definition media players, we had agenda signage, which we absolutely spun out into a abstracted aggregation alleged BrightSign that’s now actual successful. In the aboriginal years, I additionally would go allocution to Netflix.
What had you done at a Netflix aback you formed at Netflix?
So I hadn’t formed at Netflix yet, I was aloof adage I started Roku and afresh we accept some aboriginal articles that were adequately successful. I would go to Netflix and I would say, you know, hey — this was afore they had alive players — and I was like, “We should assignment calm on a alive player.” And they said, “Yeah, we should do that. No, we shouldn’t do that.” So they went aback and alternating and we never absolutely got to an agreement.
And afresh they started accomplishing a chase for a VP of Internet TV. I thought, well, if they’re not activity to do a accord with Roku, maybe I should aloof see if I could do that for them and run Roku. And so absolutely I cut a accord or fabricated a accord with Reed Hastings, the CEO, area I would go assignment at Netflix and run Roku.
You’re alive your own aggregation and had a abounding time job at Netflix.
Yeah. It was abundant that he would let me do that. I congenital out their alive amateur group. I additionally started their licensing accumulation that did the aboriginal deals with Xbox.
So this is a decade ago, roughly.
This is 10 years ago, yeah.
Because they’ve alone been alive for 10 years.
This was the time they had aloof launched their beta alive account on PCs. My job was to body a box, but I additionally said, “Hey, we should authorization this technology.”
They knew they basic to beck stuff. And their acceptance was best bodies don’t accept the accouterments to absolutely get this actuality assimilate a TV. So it’s not aloof abundant for us to put this assimilate the internet and beforehand it out. Bodies can watch on the laptops. If we appetite to get this on a TV, we’ve got to actualize a accessory that can do that, so we’re activity to body that ourselves. You were activity to body that.
That’s right. The aboriginal Netflix beta version, aback they launched it aback then, was on the web. You could watch it on your laptop. So anyway, I started architecture this box for them and I congenital the aggregation and we got to the point … And I also, like I said, I additionally started this actual tiny accumulation to authorization it to TV companies and to d manufacturers. That absolutely went absolutely well. And so, the continued adventure abbreviate is that they decided, “Well, we don’t charge to body our own box because this licensing action is alive well.” And so we addled a new accord area that aggregation I had incubated central Netflix spun out and became allotment of Roku, which was advancing on the side, and that’s how we got …
So you started a company, went to assignment for Netflix, kept alive the aforementioned company, larboard Netflix, brought the aggregation that you’d congenital up at Netflix aback to your aboriginal company.
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That is a altered annular trip.
Yeah. Formed out absolutely well. And then, we accomplished up that box and three months afterwards alien it, it was the aboriginal Netflix player. That’s how we got into the alive …
Was it alleged the Netflix box? Was it array of branded as a Netflix box?
It was the Netflix Amateur by Roku. That was the aboriginal product. And afresh afterwards that, we bound added an app abundance and started bringing on added casework besides Netflix. And afresh we afflicted the name from Netflix Amateur to the Roku Alive Player.
Right. And up until recently, I was attractive through your S1 a while ago, Netflix was about entirely, it was the aggregate of what was accident on Roku players, alike up until a brace of years ago.
No. Alive on Roku has been diversifying for years. I mean, of beforehand it acclimated to be 100 percent Netflix. Our complete abject is Netflix alive is the same, or goes up. But on a allotment of hours, it ticks bottomward every quarter, I anticipate the aftermost cardinal we gave Netflix was beneath than a third.
Should we aback up? We’re seven account into this and explain what Roku is for anyone who’s still alert who doesn’t apperceive what Roku is?
You guys acquaint boxes that acquiesce you to get alive video agreeable assimilate your TV. You authorization software that goes assimilate TVs, like the TCL I aloof bought from Costco, it’s great. Now you are affairs announcement and added casework for bodies who are distributing that stuff.
That’s right. So our business is … The way I anticipate about it is we’re a belvedere for television distribution. We body calibration of our belvedere by affairs these players which we’re acclaimed for and we’re the bazaar baton in, and additionally licensing to TV companies. In fact, the aftermost cardinal we put out, which is the best contempo abstracts we have, is 25 percent of all acute TVs awash in the United States are alive the Roku operating system. So that’s how we body our calibration of our belvedere and we don’t absolutely accomplish money accomplishing that. The way we accomplish our gross accumulation as a aggregation is we get paid for distributing content. Aback we accelerate you an email and get you to assurance up for HBO, afresh we get a allotment of that cable revenue.
But our bigger business is advertising. So if you anticipate about the actuality that all TV examination is affective to streaming, and that agency all TV announcement is affective to streaming. Under the Roku belvedere includes a actual advanced, adult TV ad platform. We’re in New York today because Roku’s New York appointment is all about ad sales. Best of the Ad Age top 200 advertisers now acquaint on Roku.
Was this the archetypal you had in apperception aback you came aback from Netflix with a aggregation you’d congenital up there, you said, “We are activity to alpha putting out accouterments and afresh over time we’re activity to alteration into a casework company”? Or did you accept to abound yourself into that idea?
No, our action has never changed. Our action has consistently been to be a belvedere for television, a next-generation Internet TV platform, and afresh to accomplish money on services. Now the exact services, we approved a agglomeration of altered things. We knew announcement was a big possibility. We approved games, actually, affairs games. Signing up subscribers to casework has consistently been article we’ve done. So we’ve approved a few things, and the things that absolutely formed the best were announcement and cable services.
But it was always, “We’re activity to be a agenda company, not a box company. The box is a adjustment of accepting our belvedere into someone’s house.”
Was there anytime any pushback from investors or anybody abroad saying, “Services are great, but appropriate now we’re disturbing to get the internet into someone’s abode and to get them to beck something. So why don’t you apply on axis a accumulation on these accessories you’re selling?”
The allotment aeon for Roku was originally … I adjourned it myself, and afresh we concluded up accomplishing a aboriginal annular of adventure capital. Aback we did that pitch, the angle was definitely, “Look, we’re activity to body a belvedere and we’re activity to accomplish money on services.” That was the accomplished …
From the get-go.
From the beginning. That was in the aboriginal broker pitches. Aback we aloft money from Account Corp afterwards the adventure round, we did a cardinal annular with Account Corp, led that. And again, it was all about the casework and agreeable administration and the way TV is changing. That’s consistently been our pitch. It was hard. A lot of investors were agnostic aboriginal on aback we didn’t accept any account revenue, aback all our acquirement was aloof hardware.
Right, because it was a continued aeon area you’re saying, “Look, one day we’re activity to be this, today we’re a accessory company.”
I never said we were a accessory company, we acquaint accessories …
But that’s what your P&L would say?
Yeah, that’s correct. It was adamantine in the aboriginal canicule to get investors to believe, but we got abundant to accept and we adjourned the company.
To go aback to accepted day, you’re what, 22 actor users?
Yeah, 22 actor alive accounts.
Active users. That’s addition who’s alive article through one of your devices.
We anticipate of it as a household. It’s not aloof one person. It agency they’ve streamed in the aftermost 30 days.
How abounding of them are bodies like me who are affairs a TV set and it happens to accept Roku installed and so already I about-face it on, I become an alive user?
So the majority of our alive users are still bodies who own our alive player. The fastest-growing articulation are TVs. We’re on the balloon appropriate now of TVs about to canyon players in agreement of breeding new accounts.
People about ask me, “Are alive players activity to go away?” Bodies will aloof get it congenital into TV. We acquaint millions of alive players. Our bazaar allotment is absolutely growing. It’s a abundant way for us to get alive accounts. I don’t anticipate it’s activity abroad anytime soon. But TVs are absolutely the best cardinal access for us because aback you buy a Roku TV, you about-face on the TV and you see the Roku home screen. So it puts us in a abundant position to acclaim agreeable and to advice you adjudge what to watch.
I bethink aback you guys said, “We’re affective into TVs, here’s our TV strategy,” you appear a agglomeration of licensing deals. They were all with mostly Chinese companies that I hadn’t heard of. Not the Samsungs of the world, not the Sonys of the world. I thought, well, that’s, I mean, I accept why you were accomplishing it, but that’s activity to be difficult for you to breach through. Did you accept aplomb that the TCLs of the apple were activity to be array of a big cast alike admitting no one knew about them at the time? No one in the U.S. knew about them.
Right. We had a strategy, we sat bottomward and thought, “Okay, what kinds of companies should we authorization to?” If you attending at … This was aboriginal on, we said, okay, well, if you attending at the trends in TVs, originally TV companies were American. RCA and Zenith. And Japanese companies took over, Sony and Panasonic. These canicule there’s about no Japanese companies that absolutely accomplish TVs anymore except for Sony. Like Toshiba, Sharp, those are all accountant brands now. Afresh the Korean companies became dominant, Samsung and LG.
But now, the Chinese companies are the alone ones accepting in bazaar allotment and anybody abroad is accident bazaar share. So the aing beachcomber we acquainted was activity to be Chinese companies. If you aloof attending at the economics of TV, the Chinese companies are angular integrated. They ascendancy best of the accomplishment and it was bright they were activity to become the ascendant players. And so we decided, we’ll bet on Chinese companies, and additionally they’re added accommodating to assignment with us. If you’re Samsung, you’re actual appreciative of your TV software and …
And you spent a lot of time architecture up your OS and you’re actual appreciative of it and you’ve got big admirable up affairs for that, and so you don’t charge Roku to appear and appearance you how to actualize an operating arrangement for the internet.
That’s right. And so, that action has been cool acknowledged for us. TCL, for example, alien in the U.S. aback they started alive with us, they were a No. 24 in bazaar share. They’re the third-biggest TV aggregation in the U.S. now.
Did you accept a faculty that they would abound that quickly? I absolutely anticipate I had not heard of them until I knew I bare to buy a new TV. Went to the New York Times Wirecutter site, researched what’s the best TV and they said, “You should go buy this one. It’s from TCL.” Frankly, I wouldn’t accept bought it if I hadn’t had an endorsement from a abode like that that I’d heard of. “This is some awe-inspiring brand, I’m not activity to buy.”
Well, I anticipate we helped. They’re a abundant partner. They’re a actual bargain manufacturer, angular integrated. They accomplish abundant affection TVs. But I anticipate absolutely our software and our cast has helped them be acknowledged in the U.S., has been a abundant partnership. I mean, yes, we acquainted like this action will work. Now, it formed absolutely able-bodied and we were maybe a little afraid how able-bodied it works so quickly, but that was the plan from the beginning. It’s not aloof TCL. TCL is a abundant accomplice but we additionally accept a lot of added Chinese manufacturers that are partners. There’s I anticipate 10 or 11 altered brands now that authorization the Roku TV.
And additionally in the TV business, the added big action for us was assignment with retailers. The retailers absolutely are the best able players in the TV administration business. Added than maybe Samsung, the way TV administration works is the Walmart and Best Buy TV client says, “Hey, I anticipate I’ll buy, you know, I anticipate I’ll outsource six different” — I’m aloof authoritative up these numbers — “six altered 42-inch TVs. I appetite these affectionate of appearance and this is how abundant I’m activity to pay. TV aggregation No. 1, would you like to acquaint us those TVs? Nope. Okay, TV aggregation No. 2, we’ll booty yours.” So, alive carefully with the retailers, creating affidavit for them to appetite to acquaint Roku TVs was additionally an important allotment of our strategy.
It’s not a accompaniment aback I absolved into Costco — I knew I was activity to buy anyway, but that’s the aboriginal TV you see appropriate aback you airing in the entrance, in this case was a big ol’ TCL TV with Roku.
Us, TCL, we put a lot of assignment into authoritative that happen.
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Did you apprehend that, again, aback you were architecture this aggregation years ago, that you were one day activity to accept to go altercation with Costco and Walmart and I accept you’re activity to Bentonville and authoritative trips like that, acknowledgment why they care to put your actuality in prime slots like that?
Oh yeah. Roku has been affairs retail articles from the beginning. And so accepting distribution, you know, aerial out to retailers and talking to buyers is accepted operating action in our business.
I anticipate a lot of association I allocution to allegedly are not acclimated to, “How do I accord with the retail approach and why do I accept to accord with a retail channel? Why can’t I aloof acquaint this actuality on my own through my website? It’s the internet.”
Well, you know, aback we started affairs Roku, actually, we awash them online only, originally. I’m sorry, the Roku Netflix players. Added Roku articles were in retail, but we decided, well, we’ll alpha with Netflix online only. And afresh aback we angry on retail a brace of years later, that had a affecting … sales absolutely best up. Retail is … We acquaint a lot of articles in Walmart, retail’s an important place.
And you’re adequate activity out and authoritative the case. There’s some bodies who absolutely appetite that array of …
Yeah. You personally.
Well, I don’t do that personally.
You get addition abroad to go accomplish the case for you.
We accept sales teams. In the aboriginal days, of course, I acclimated to do it and it wasn’t the admired allotment of my job, but I apperceive how to do it. It was an important affair to do. But these days, there’s a thousand advisers at Roku and we accept experts to alarm on those companies. Of course, big cardinal relationships like with Walmart, I do absorb time on that. I go accommodated with them in Bentonville.
I appetite to apprehend added about the business today but I basic to start, I basic to allocution a bit about how you got actuality personally. You were advertence that you don’t adulation sales yourself. I’m d you’re an architect by trade, by training.
Yeah, my accomplishments is, I’m a nerd. I accomplished myself to affairs computers aback I was 13.
What affectionate of computer were you alive on?
Well, in average academy … I grew up in Texas but in average academy I went to, we confused to Holland for two years and I went to the American Academy at the Hague and they had a PDP 11 in a allowance in the corner.
I don’t apperceive the PDP 11.
It’s a mini computer. This was appropriate before, appropriate about the time Apple IIs came out.
I bethink the Commodore Pet.
Yep. Well, aback I was in Holland, I acclimated to go to this computer architecture which was in city Holland and they had a agglomeration of, they had a Commodore Pet, which I additionally acclimated to affairs on.
We had band machines.
I was aggravating to explain to my kids how you would bulk a affairs application a cassette band but of beforehand they don’t apperceive what a cassette band is, so they aloof looked at me blankly.
I still accept my cassette tapes with my programs on them.
And what were you cerebration aboriginal on? “Computer programming is a business for me, a activity for me, it’s a affair I wanna do”? Or was it some added path?
Oh well, aboriginal on I wasn’t cerebration about those kinds of things. The way I got into business was … I assumption I’ve consistently been absorbed in business. I grew up not poor, but array of lower-middle class.
What’d your association do?
My dad was in, well, he was in automated engineering, drafting, and afresh he confused into sales and I was built-in in the U.K. and he got a job at Lockheed and that’s how we concluded up in the U.S. I would do things aback I was young, like there was a golf beforehand abaft our abode and I acclimated to go and acquisition the golf assurance in the brook and acquaint them aback to the golfers. So I was consistently absorbed in agency to accomplish money.
So you were a alarmist who additionally admired commerce?
Correct, that’s right, I’m a commerce-valuing nerd. So little things like that. But as far as my career, I absolutely didn’t accord it abundant thought. But aboriginal on I started autograph programs. I had a TRS-80, which was one of the aboriginal microcomputers, and I wrote some programs and some software and I would try and get them appear and I got some appear in some magazines but mostly they got rejected. I thought, “Well, if they’re not gonna broadcast them, afresh I’ll acquaint them.” So that’s how I started affairs computer software.
What was your beforehand allotment of self-written software?
I would say my aboriginal hit was in college. I had a Commodore Amiga computer which was the …
A footfall up from the Commodore 64.
There was the Pet you mentioned, afresh the Commodore 64, afresh the Amiga, that’s right. And so I had the Amiga and I wrote software and advised some hardware. This was aback in 1986, I guess, and computers were aloof starting to get multimedia capability. So, the Amiga was accepted because it had an eight-bit complete playback, it could comedy aback eight-bit agenda complete and it became the aboriginal desktop video assembly computer.
But anyway, I congenital this artefact alleged Perfect Sound, which would almanac audio. So it could comedy aback agenda audio, it was the aboriginal computer that could comedy aback agenda audio, but it couldn’t almanac it. So this Perfect Complete would let you almanac the audio and let you adapt it like you’re accomplishing with your podcast. So I awash that for $99.
And again, you accept to spell that out, there was no internet. If you basic to administer your software you did it through magazines.
Yeah, or stores.
Oftentimes, or stores.
Magazines or stores.
Trade shows too, I think.
Yep, we would go to Commodore barter shows.
You could absolutely acquaint your software at a barter show.
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Yep, we acclimated to do that, that was fun.
At what point did you go, “Oh, I wanna body a multimedia alive box aggregation that could eventually become a platform?”
Well, I did this Perfect Sound, which was a digital-audio recording and alteration software for consumers. It was aloof for fun, it was about like a game, and we awash a lot of them. It was a top hit for the Commodore Amiga. Afresh we did some added products, but afresh I accelerating from academy and I confused to California and I started a aggregation accomplishing able digital-audio stuff. So non-linear alteration systems, like today it would be Avid and Digidesign.
You were architecture these things?
Yeah, that was the aboriginal articles area I congenital those and awash those and fabricated a appropriate bulk of money. So that’s area I array of had some aboriginal bartering success. So I did digital-audio actuality all my career and afresh the internet became accepted and I thought, “Well that’s gonna be big, why don’t I do some internet software?” So I started accomplishing internet software and that aggregation got bought by Macromedia and became a bulk technology …
And that gave you abundant assets to alpha Roku?
Nope, afresh I started … Afterwards that I started Replay TV, the aboriginal DVR company.
Yeah, I did that for a few years.
Replay and TiVo were array of aing and aing for a while.
Right, yep. We were the aboriginal TV DVR companies. Replay was absolutely first, which bodies allegedly don’t realize. TiVo won array of the business war and afresh afterwards Replay … Replay got bought, has now got awash a few times. It’s now endemic by DirecTV — the technology — and afresh I started Roku.
Started Roku and afresh afresh had this idea, “I get the internet, I get media, I see how they’re gonna assignment together, I can see far abundant out that I can accomplish the bound from accessories to announcement and services.”
Yeah, it was bright that the television apple was gonna about-face to streaming, that aggregate was gonna be accessible on-demand. The timing was a little beneath clear. So I started Roku and was array of like, “Well, that will be a big affair but we’ll aloof body multimedia agenda accessories that are the aggregation of media and the internet and consumer.” So we congenital a few altered products, and the alive player, of course, is the one that became cool big.
And you said you started that in 2002?
Yep, backward 2002.
We’re 2018, now you airing into a Costco, you buy a TV, it’s absurd not to buy an internet TV. Doesn’t beggarly you’re gonna affix it to the internet but it’s all now standard. Is that the timeline that you projected? You anticipation this was gonna be a 16-year project? Did you anticipate it was gonna appear sooner, later?
I anticipate the timing is about what we projected. I bethink activity aback and attractive at the business plan that we did in 2008 and it’s close, it wasn’t exact.
So I mentioned at the alpha aback I talked to you aftermost time on a stage, I had a agglomeration of accepted questions. “What’s gonna appear aback Google crushes you? What’s gonna appear aback Amazon crushes you?” At the time, we spent a lot of time cerebration about Apple’s alive ambitions. “They’re all gonna drove you and/or buy you.” I apperceive Amazon looked at affairs you for a while. Why accept you been able to survive and curl aggressive adjoin companies with astronomic resources, abundant added than yours? You can altercate that this isn’t their bulk but they all booty the alive allowance and TV and alive seriously.
Yeah, I anticipate … Well, aboriginal of all, this is a accepted question. I aloof would admonish bodies that those companies acclimated to be baby and they had competitors and they, like commonly happens in the tech business, aback Google for archetype started search, well, Yahoo was huge and who would accept anticipation you could alpha a new chase company? In the tech business, above technology about wins and tech companies basically attempt on how acute their advisers are and the affection of their products. So that’s one thing.
But I would say that in the case of Roku … I’ll accord you the big-picture acknowledgment and afresh some examples. So the big account is if you anticipate about aback new aggressive platforms accept emerged, the software belvedere has consistently changed. So if you go back, we were talking about PCs aback in the aboriginal days, able-bodied afore PCs, there were mini computers like that PDP 11. Those had their own operating systems. Those operating systems didn’t accomplish the alteration to PCs. Instead of operating systems advised for PCs, Windows became the assertive operating arrangement on PCs and afresh aback phones became a accretion platform, Windows didn’t accomplish that transition. No one’s alive Windows these canicule on their phone, they’re alive Android or iOS.
So it’s the aforementioned thing, aback new accretion platforms emerge, an operating arrangement or a belvedere congenital accurately and optimized for that belvedere wins. So that was phones and afresh appropriate now area TVs are acceptable a accretion belvedere in their own appropriate and what you’ve got is the incumbents aggravating to booty their Android software and their IOS software, their buzz software and anchorage it to a TV. So the aforementioned affair that was approved in the accomplished and bootless they’re aggravating again. That’s their accustomed inclination. But what Roku has done is we’ve congenital a purpose-built belvedere advised from the arena up for TV and so it’s bigger for TVs. It’s aloof got built-in advantages against porting a adaptable operating system.
So you anticipate it’s a abstruse advantage that you guys accept over Apple and Google and Amazon?
Yep, that’s the bulk of it. And afresh of beforehand there’s added things. We’re abundant added focused. All we do is we appear to assignment every day and we anticipate about how to accomplish TV better. Those companies, yes they’re abundant companies, but they appear to assignment cerebration about how can I acquaint a agglomeration of shoes, how can I be bigger at search, how can I acquaint added phones? TV is on their account but it’s at the basal of their list.
I got say, from both the alfresco and addition who’s been alive a lot video for a agglomeration of years and has had an Apple TV for a agglomeration of years and still has one, you can accomplish pros and cons for either — at atomic on the user ancillary — for either of your software, but they all fundamentally do the aforementioned thing. They get Netflix assimilate my TV and that’s great. Aback I attending at your success, I anticipate you guys accept had some aggregate of action and maybe article abroad that has accustomed you to get your boxes into people’s homes and to get your software assimilate those boxes. Apple could absolutely accept accountant their software to a TCL or whoever else. They accept to accept fabricated some decision, they didn’t wanna do that for whatever reason.
Right. I’m not adage that they couldn’t do it technically. I’m adage that you had this innovator’s dilemma. They’ve got big, absolute businesses and they wanna advantage that for their new business and this is what they consistently do. It’s not that Microsoft couldn’t body a buzz operating system, they aloof absitively they’ll anchorage Windows to the phone. It’s not that the PDP 11 aggregation couldn’t accomplish PC operating systems.
But Microsoft basic to extend Windows and looked at phones that way instead of attractive at phones as a new platform.
Yeah, instead of saying, “Hey, let’s aloof bandy all that assignment away. Let’s aloof alpha from the arena up and body article absolutely optimized for phones.” It’s aloof not their aptitude and it’s additionally aloof … You gotta bethink the change of these new computer platforms is they alpha out absolutely baby and afresh suddenly, one day, they’re big. So these companies aback they’re baby they’re like, “Why should we absorb time on that?” So aboriginal of all they don’t absorb a lot of time on it in the aboriginal canicule and afresh they wanna booty their absolute basement and technology and they wanna aloof embrace the new platform.
So for example, so what’s bigger about Roku software? Well, a big one is that phones are expensive, like they bulk a lot of money, they’re cool computers. TVs are cheap, the capital lath on a TV is $25 and TVs are atrociously bulk competitive, no one makes money in the TV business. So our software runs on bargain TVs, it costs beneath to body a TV with Roku software. Aback you’re aggravating to get 50 cents off your bill of abstracts so you can win a Black Friday appropriate at Walmart, the bulk of money you save by acid your RAM in bisected and your CPU in bisected by alive Roku software — which absolutely has abundant achievement and added agreeable — is huge. It’s the aberration amid accepting administration and not accepting administration in Walmart.
Do you anticipate because you’re the amateur you’re accommodating to accomplish concessions or business arrange that an Apple or a Google wouldn’t accomplish because they would say, decidedly Apple, they accept actual accurate about distribution?
The capacity matter. So anniversary of these companies accept their own action and they accept their own affidavit for accomplishing TV products. None of those companies accept the acumen of, “We wanna body the best cutting-the-cord box possible.” They accept affidavit that absorb accepting broader administration for their proprietary platform, their ecosystem or their services. So Roku’s the alone aggregation that absolutely says, “Hey, we wanna body a artefact that has the best content, is the best cord-cutting box accessible and is acutely inexpensive.” It costs $29 and is cool simple to use.
The added affair is just, again, absorption on the specific market. The accustomed affection for a lot of companies is, “We’ll use HTML,” but HTML has a lot of downsides. It’s advised for PCs and phones that accept lots of accretion power. It encourages the use of HTML frameworks that aftermath added complicated user interfaces. So again, it’s aloof like these capacity bulk and so the aftereffect is a user interface that’s a little bit harder to use, costs a little bit added to build. Yeah it’ll run Netflix, but it costs added and it’s harder to use. So why would you buy that aback there’s article that’s easier to use and costs less?
You alarm this a cutting-the-cord box, you’re absolute about that, but a lot of your administration partnerships accept been with bodies who professionally administer TV, right? You mentioned Dish, maybe you didn’t acknowledgment them but Dish has been an investor, you’ve formed with them. Sky in the U.K. you assignment with. Aback I approved to cut the bond with what’s now Charter they said, “Do you accept a Roku TV because if so you can beck our actuality through them, we’ve got an app.” It’s absolutely a awful app but I don’t anticipate that’s your fault. How accept you managed to assignment with bodies who are still in the acceptable TV administration business?
Yes, that’s interesting. In our aboriginal canicule we acclimated to abstain talking about cable, acid the bond and actuality because we didn’t appetite to abrade our partners, but I anticipate one of our goals is to be a acceptable partner. A acceptable accomplice for our TV partners, acceptable accomplice for our retailers, acceptable accomplice for our agreeable partners, and we accept MVPDs that are acceptable ally as well. We accept the Xfinity App on Roku. We distribute, like you said, we administer alive players through DirecTV, AT&T stores, through Sling, which is endemic by Dish. So I would say that the acknowledgment is we try and be a acceptable partner. For a continued time they resisted the trend, but I anticipate now best companies apprehend bodies are affective to internet for TV and they charge to embrace that. So we wanna advice them.
So the new apriorism is streaming’s for real, it’s gonna appear and now you see bodies like John Stankey from AT&T/Time Warner saying, “There’s gonna be a scattering of big players. There’s gonna be a Netflix maybe and an Apple and AT&T/Time Warner’s … There’s gonna be this consolidation. There’s gonna be bristles or six ascendant array of alive platforms.” So all those should assignment with your accessories and softwares.
That makes sense, but it seems like if that apple happens it’s gonna be difficult for you to get money out of those folks. Already — and maybe this has changed, but in your S1, at least, you said, “We absolutely don’t accomplish any money from Netflix, alike admitting that’s a ascendant approach from us.” And you don’t accomplish any money from YouTube. If there’s a scattering of ascendant alive players, alive providers, how are you activity to be able to argue them to cut you into their business?
Well, aloof let me actual some delusion … We didn’t say we don’t accomplish money from Netflix, we said we don’t accept a actual bulk of money from Netflix, but we do accomplish money. Aback a chump uses a Roku the aboriginal affair they see on the home awning is a Roku ad. They don’t about apprehend it’s an ad because we try and accomplish it agreeable aggressive and advantageous for the customer, but we do get paid. So we get paid for every chump that we acquaint ons on the remote.
Anyway, to acknowledgment your question, I anticipate that … I accede that, well, I don’t anticipate there’s gonna be bristles apps ultimately but I do anticipate we are gonna alpha to see some agreeable alliance which is one of the affidavit that we launched the Roku channel.
Explain what the Roku approach is.
So the Roku approach is a approach that Roku — owned-and-operated approach that Roku publishes, Roku alive approach or an app. It started out as movies and TV shows. We’ve added account and we’re gonna accumulate abacus added agreeable categories. It’s free, ad-supported.
If you anticipate about our strategy, our action with the Roku approach has array of two big pieces. One allotment is that the interface on a Roku is activity to beforehand from the way it works today which is an interface of apps or what we alarm alive channels, to a added content-first user interface. So aback you about-face on your Roku on the home awning you’ll apparent agreeable recommendations. So for us the Roku approach is our head for architecture that content-first acquaintance and eventually it will become added arresting and ability alike end up as the home awning someday.
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And I do accept there will be alliance and that a lot of companies that are authoritative their own apps today will apprehend and are starting to apprehend that our ability is not actuality a direct-to-consumer service. We accept abundant agreeable but we don’t accept the abilities and we don’t acquaint ads, we don’t accept the abilities and apparatus acquirements and abstracts to do recommendations. There’s a lot of things we don’t do, billing, there’s a lot of pieces that …
Yeah, but they’re all adage they wanna apprentice that now absolutely quickly. For a continued time they were agreeable not to do it. Now they’re all spending billions of dollars aggravating to bulk out how to do it.
The big guys. There’s a lot of companies I anticipate that you ability anticipate of as big but are absolutely mid bank that will end up saying, “You know, it’s a lot easier for us to get administration by accomplishing deals with the calibration administration partners. We’ll go do a accord with Roku, and let them handle all that stuff,” for example.
You guys are about acceptable the cable company, right? You were activity to become a aqueduct and they were activity to go through you, and there was activity to be some bulk that you abstract out of that.
We’re a agreeable administration company.
Yeah. I anticipate that what will appear is agreeable will get broadcast on these all-embracing agreeable administration companies, which Roku is the leader. Added big ones would be Amazon, Netflix is, but a little bit Netflix-specific, and maybe some of these basic MVPDs will end up actuality the …
Disney, and AT&T/Time Warner.
Disney, yeah. For us, there’s this ambition of architecture what we alarm a content-first UI, area bodies can broadcast their agreeable on Roku, and as will get sold, they’ll get merchandise, or billed, and that will all be automatic. We will be one of those alliance credibility as agreeable starts to consolidate.
You’re both activity to be a benefactor of added people’s stuff, or you’re activity to administer the Netflixes and YouTubes and AT&T/Time Warners of the world, and you’re architecture up your own array of approach that you anticipate is activity to become one of those ascendant hubs, as well.
That’s right, and because on Roku, on the home screen, we aloof accept an built-in advantage, and we accept on Roku’s platforms will be the easiest, best way to get that array of content. There’s consistently activity to be absolute agreeable in channels like Netflix, and you’re consistently activity to appetite to run Netflix, so of beforehand we’ll accomplish those available, as well, but there’s activity to be bags and bags of agreeable that’s not necessarily absolute that we will accomplish accessible direct.
When I angry on my cast new TV, which I adulation talking about, and I put on Netflix, it said, “Hey, you’ve got a 4K TV, it looks like. Do you appetite to pay me an added $4 a month” — I anticipate it was — “to get 4K content?” Curious to see what happened, I said, “Okay.” I hit a on, and it’s like, “Great, now you accept it.”
Do you participate in that barter at all? Are you accepting any money out of that deal? The added $4?
Our accepted business archetypal is that for cable casework like Netflix, aback we assurance up a customer, we get a allotment of the revenue.
In this case, I was already active up. This was an upsell.
Yeah, so it depends on the specifics of the contract. We additionally about get shares of the upsells. Netflix is unique. They’re Netflix, and we do accept a accord with Netflix, but in general, it’s the non-Netflixes of the apple area we accomplish best of our money.
Right. The abate players at a little … Netflix has a lot of leverage, and you accept an alarming accord that goes aback with them.
Not aloof smaller. We get ones that … Netflix is altered in that best bodies accept Netflix. No one abroad is like that. Aback we get paid, we get paid aback we assurance up a new subscriber. If you already accept the cable done, we don’t get paid.
Right, so you get a compensation for signing up at HBO?
It’s not a bounty, we get a rev allotment for the activity of that subscriber.
You assurance up an HBO customer, you participate in that?
Advertising, you talked about, is a big allotment of your business. There’s a trend, at atomic in allotment of the alive world, abroad from ads. Netflix is ad free, HBO is ad free. You can get ad-free versions of CBS, Hulu, etc. Lots of association still stick with the ad services, but do you anguish at all that there’s activity to be a beforehand abroad from announcement amid a big articulation of your chump base?
No, not at all. This catechism is a appealing accepted question, but …
That’s what I do. I ask the accessible questions.
It’s a accepted catechism by acute people.
Here we go.
People anticipate of Netflix as creating the alive revolution, and there’s no ads on Netflix, but why do bodies cut the cord? They cut the bond for two reasons. One is they cut it because it’s a bigger acquaintance streaming. There’s bags of content. You can pay for aloof what you appetite to pay for, it’s on-demand, so abundant bigger experience. They cut the bond to save money, as well.
We don’t anticipate bodies appetite to carbon their ample cable array costs in the alive world, so we anticipate what’ll appear is, and what we see, is that consumers will assurance up for a baby cardinal of SVOD services, Netflix, maybe one or two others, but afresh they appetite to supplement that with a lot of chargeless content. Allegedly the No. 1 catechism we get in chase on roku.com for pre-sales is, “What can I get on Roku for free?”
People will abide announcement if they get chargeless content, and they accept that bulk barter and they’re adequate with that?
Absolutely, and I anticipate ad endless are activity to appear down. The Roku channel, which is a chargeless ad-supported channel, we run bisected the ad bulk of acceptable TV, so there will be beneath ads, but the CPMs of the ads are activity up as they become targeted and scarcer.
Again, the abstraction of targeted TV announcement — we had Dave Morgan in to allocution about this, because bodies accept been talking about it for years. It’s still absolutely nascent. I anticipate anyone who’s watched Hulu or any array of ad-supported alive TV, as you said, you accept apparent the aforementioned bartering over and over, apparently, because they haven’t awash it. How far off are you from absolute targeting and absolutely compassionate maybe who I am and what I ability appetite to watch and not watch, or buy and not buy?
Every ad served on Roku is targeted, 100 percent targeted, one-to-one, personalized. Advertisers can buy agilely targeted ads. That’s about how they start, because they’re acclimated to affairs Nielsen demographics. One of our targeting segments is Nielsen demographics, so if you appetite to ambition 18- to 30- or 40-year-old males, you can do that. If you appetite to ambition bodies in the bazaar for a car that accomplish over $100,000 a year, you can do that as well. If you appetite to ambition bodies alive in New York City, you can do that. If you appetite to ambition bodies with pets, you can do that. That is the future, and that is how we acquaint our ads. We don’t acquaint ads today by shows or by brands. We acquaint aggregate by audience.
But that said, the capital acumen TV advertisers are affective to Roku is because they’re afterward their audience. As bodies about-face to streaming, if you appetite to acquaint on TV to those admirers you accept to run alive ads. For example, Nielsen put out some abstracts afresh that said that 10 percent of Americans in the 18- to 34-year-old demographic are alone attainable on Roku. If you appetite to ability those customers, you charge to acquaint on Roku.
What happens aback there’s a new announcement belvedere is the admirers move first, and afresh the advertisers alpha to chase over a lag.
That’s for every platform?
For every platform.
There’s a lot of absolutely acute business people, and acute tech guys and women, who accept failed, because the ad bazaar didn’t chase them as bound as they thought. And they accumulate saying, “Look, now all the eyeballs are over here.” The ad guys is saying, “Great.”
Our ad business is growing over 100 percent year over year. It’s aloof a abundant business, and they are advancing and we are arch the way on that. A brace years ago aback we started affairs ads, the advertisers were actual skeptical. These days, you don’t accept to argue them, you aloof accept to get them to adjudge how abundant money they should move over.
You don’t accept to absorb time acceptable them and acknowledgment to them how this actuality works now? They get it.
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No. There’s still a lot of work, but it’s a lot easier than it acclimated to be.
When we talked a while ago, you weren’t public, you were still adopting money, it looked for a brace years like you were accessible to go public, you delayed that, you assuredly went, it looks like it’s formed out well. What has afraid you about that process? What did you not apprehend about alive a accessible company?
I was afraid by how agnate it is to alive a clandestine company.
Yeah. A lot of bodies say, “Don’t you abhorrence actuality public? Isn’t it hard? Everything’s changed.” The absoluteness is, Roku is … It’s not like the old canicule aback bodies went accessible with $10 actor in sales. Roku had abundant sales aback we went public. We already put in abode best of the basement of a accessible company, aloof because we were a bigger company.
The alone affair that’s absolutely afflicted for us is a little added conduct on information. We can’t be absolutely as cellophane as we acclimated to be. But there’s a lot of abundant things. The b is about traded. That makes it easier to appoint employees, it allows anyone in the accessible to beforehand in Roku and be allotment of our experience.
You apprehend one academy of thought, bodies say, “Oh, yeah. He had his annual reporting, you get to absorb all this time putting out those letters and it shortens your focus.” There’s addition academy of anticipation that says, “This is a abundant conduct for alive a company, because you can’t adumbrate problems.” It seems like you’re, at least, on the additional — you accept accept with it.
Yeah. We were already accomplishing annual letters to our board. They’re added abundant and there’s a lot of audits, but there’s not a lot of change.
How aing did you get to affairs a company? I’ve accounting about the actuality that Amazon was attractive at you guys. Was that accommodation not to buy you, was it your accommodation not to sell?
I had the luck of authoritative a fair bulk of money aboriginal on in my career. I’ve had some acknowledged — Roku agency “six” in Japanese, it’s my sixth company. The above-mentioned companies, abounding of them were actual successful. I don’t appetite to acquaint Roku. Of course, we would attending at any action seriously, but it’s not like I feel like we charge to acquaint Roku for claimed banking reasons. And also, I’m a big accepter that …
By the way, I anticipate you’re the aboriginal actuality I’ve anytime talked to, at atomic on the record, who said, “The actuality that I had fabricated money in a above-mentioned activity changes the way I attending at affairs or not affairs this company.”
Thank you for your honesty.
Oh, that’s a big deal.
You’re the first.
No, that’s a big deal, I’m sure. Anybody thinks that.
They aloof don’t say it.
Oh, really? I don’t apperceive why they don’t say it. It’s obvious. The added important affair is all about abrogation upside on the table, so if you anticipate a aggregation will be successful, added than you’d like to get some banknote to change your life, why would you acquaint it? It’s activity to be account added in the future.
I anticipate we’re in the aboriginal canicule of streaming, I anticipate Roku will ability about every TV in the world. That’s a badly admired company. If we awash the aggregation now, we’d be abrogation all of that upside, we’d be giving that upside to whoever buys the company.
The Amazon affair that I’m talking about was a brace years ago. Added than a brace years ago.
I don’t apperceive annihilation about Amazon. That was all rumors.
No, it wasn’t rumors. You can’t be honest with me in one sentence, and afresh be not honest … That’s all right. You don’t accept to allocution about it, but I get to ask.
We’ll move off into the future, you came up with a band of speakers recently. I accept why lots of companies — Apple, Google, Amazon — appetite to get into speakers, they’re all ablution acute speakers. Castigation is not a super-smart speaker. There’s not an AI, there’s no Alexa/Siri agnate in there. What’s the point of architecture out speakers for you guys, and added hardware?
Yeah. Roku is all about authoritative TV better. How can we accomplish TV better? We accept there’s lots of allowance to abide to innovate. We’ve innovated a lot. We did the aboriginal Netflix player, we did the aboriginal app abundance for TVs, we were the aboriginal to address about every above service, we invented the stick anatomy agency for alive players, the alive stick, we invented the clandestine advertisement area you can bung your headphone into your alien ascendancy and not bother bodies while you’re watching TV.
Innovation is at the bulk of one of the reason’s we’re successful, and we still anticipate there’s lots of allowance to accomplish TV better, and one of the things about TVs is, as they get thinner, this audio affection gets worse. A lot of bodies appetite to add complete confined or home amphitheater systems, and the admiration for that is aloof accepting bigger, but it’s adamantine for bodies to angle up audio to their TV. If they’re acknowledged afresh they about end up with assorted remotes and all this stuff. Why can’t you affix a apostle to your TV by aloof active into ability and aloof accepting it affix automatically and work?
If addition who’s disturbing to affix my TCL Roku to my Vizio Soundbar that I additionally bought …
Yeah. Oh, you should absolutely get a Roku speaker, wireless speaker.
I ambition I’d — and afresh it’s got this accomplished lag problem. I get why, as a consumer, I ability appetite to buy from the aforementioned …
This lag botheration is a acceptable one that you get with all of these, because these things don’t absolutely assignment able-bodied together, the audio gets out of sync. We ascendancy the software in the speakers and the TV, we can aftermath a artefact that has aught lag.
I get, as a consumer, why I ability appetite to do this. I’m actual frustrated. That solves the botheration for me. On your end, though, your business, you’ve already explained, is affairs casework and advertising, so affairs me a soundbar, I don’t see how that helps you, unless that you’re authoritative margin, and if you’re not authoritative on the TVs.
Right. Our business archetypal is to acquaint a lot of TVs and afresh monetize those TVs. In the “get you to appetite to buy a Roku TV” category, we appetite to accomplish Roku TVs better. One way we can accomplish them bigger is authoritative it so that it’s accessible to add peripherals to your TV. That’s why we do it.
We don’t necessarily accept to acquaint hardware. We additionally accept a licensing program. We authorization our Roku. We alarm this the Roku Affix technology. It’s accessible for license. I don’t apperceive if we’ll accumulate affairs speakers or not, but in the aboriginal days, we acquainted like it was important to aloof appearance … to body a acceptable product. This is how it should work, authenticate what’s a abundant chump experience, and afresh we’ll abide that. We’ll authorization that, as well. Our ambition is to accomplish Roku TV a bigger TV. That’s why we’re accomplishing it.
Are there added peripherals that you can anticipate of that’ll enhance my TV-watching experience? Acquaint me about them in beforehand so I can address about them, but additionally not acquirement addition else’s articles instead?
Remote controls are an accessible one. For example, you didn’t acknowledgment it, but the wireless speakers absolutely appear with a new anatomy agency alien control, which is a wireless alien control, in array of a bogie anatomy factor. It looks like an Amazon Echo or something, or a Google Mini, but it’s array powered. You can put it on your kitchen counter, you don’t accept to bung it in, and you can allocution to it and say, “Hey, Roku, comedy …” Actually, it uses the on. It’s not far-field, so you columnist the on and you say, “Play music on my TV.” Your Roku TV turns on and music starts playing.
It’s addition to enhance … A lot of bodies accept to music on their TV, so it’s addition way to accomplish it easier to accept a bigger TV experience. That’s a peripheral. That’s a wireless alien peripheral.
What abroad is coming?
Uh, we don’t allocution about approaching products.
All right, so you’re not activity to explain the roadmap to me? Not activity to lay it out in this podcast?
Our abstruse roadmap, no. I’m not activity to altercate that.
All right, we’ll appear aback afresh over the roadmap. Anthony, this has been great. Thank you.
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Thank you. It was nice to see you again, and acknowledgment for accepting me.
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