Furiously Paddling Underneath

In the wake of its successful acquisition by Rakuten, I went back and skimmed the coverage of Viki in the local blogs and even its coverage in the wider tech sphere.

You might think it’d been a smooth, straight path to success. Raise money -> raise more money -> raise a surprising amount of money -> sell to large Japanese company.

Do not be fooled.

You won’t have seen the enormous weight that Razmig took on himself blazing round the world signing content deals while also trying to be around for his team.

You won’t have seen the times the technology couldn’t cope with huge numbers of people trying to watch Boy Over Flowers. Or the arguments with angry, resistant, users who wanted things ‘how they used to be’.

You won’t have seen the huge efforts to combat illegal content being posted.

You won’t have seen the failed projects & partnerships, the wastes of engineering time, the technically brilliant stuff that users just didn’t want.

You won’t have seen the meetings with tough negotiations, disagreements, embarrassment and despair.

You won’t have seen the struggles of hiring a quality team: great talent leaving, terrible hires, people not working out, engineers burning out.

You won’t have seen these things, but they happened. I saw some of it, I heard stories of some and have guessed others.

It’s a shame you won’t hear these stories in anything other than mis-remembered snippets from people who were there. It’s tough to learn from the outside when you don’t know what really happened.

But that’s the thing, you’re not meant to see that.

Remember as you see a swan gliding gracefully along the surface of the water, you can’t see the feet furiously paddling underneath.


2013