Zohar is the CEO and Co-founder of Wibbitz, the automated video creation company trusted by leading brands, publishers, and agencies. Before founding Wibbitz in 2011, Zohar’s entrepreneurial drive led him to launch several startups at a young age. His passion for media and advanced technology has helped to pioneer the use of automation and change the digital video landscape. He speaks frequently at events such as TEDx, World News Media Congress, and SXSW. Zohar was selected by Geektime as one of the Top 5 Israeli Entrepreneurs, the 40-under-40 list by TheMarker Magazine, and the 40-under-40 list by the YJP.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN THE VIDEO CONTENT INDUSTRY AND HOW DID THIS LEAD YOU TO CO-FOUND WIBBITZ?
Before Wibbitz, there wasn’t really an online video content creation industry. It only existed within the consumer space, but there weren’t any real options for media companies or businesses.
The idea for Wibbitz came from my own needs and pain points as a news consumer, shortly after the launch of the first iPhone. I found it difficult to read articles on such a small screen and wished there was some sort of short video summary that I could watch instead. I also realized that the video was not easy to create. It requires a lot of resources, manpower, and knowledge, which limits many content creators’ potential to share their stories through this medium.
Which made me think – what if there was a tool that could take care of the heavy-lifting, and automate the mechanical and repetitive work of video production? I wanted to develop a platform that could be used by all teams, with or without video skills, to quickly and easily create a professional-quality video. So that every story, and every message, could be quickly delivered via quick, digestible, bite-sized video content.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
Well, let’s see. I wake up and take some time to start the day. I’ve made it a point to never sleep with my phone in my room so that I can wake up with a clear head instead of diving into the workday. It’s been a really great stress reliever, especially now that my home and the office are one and the same. I’ve also added meditation into my morning routine, and try to practice it at least 3 days a week.
Then, I’ll make a coffee, start catching up on messages from our product & engineering team in Tel Aviv and start jumping on calls. That’s usually what will take up the rest of my morning – calls with product and leadership.
Then, I’ll use my lunchtime to eat a healthy meal, catch up on industry news, and read up on new leadership and business strategies. Recently, most of my research has been around Product Lead Growth (I highly recommend Wes Bush’s book on the subject).
After lunch, my day consists of answering emails and meeting with our strategic partners and enterprise customers. I’m always pretty hands-on when it comes to our customers, so I can have a clear understanding of how we are supporting their video strategy, and how we can continue to improve our product to solve their most pressing needs.
I’ll always try to save the last 1-2 hours of my day for market research and product brainstorming, and testing any new ideas that I have for our product roadmap before I bring it to the team. Then, it’s dinner time – and I’ll remove myself from my phone and my workspace to enjoy a nice home-cooked meal (or if it’s been a long day, then it’s a pizza night.)
WHAT’S A PROBLEM THAT YOU’RE PASSIONATELY TACKLING WITH WIBBITZ AT THE MOMENT?/WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE MAJOR CHALLENGES FOR PUBLISHERS RIGHT NOW AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?/IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT INDUSTRY CHANGES/TRENDS AS WE NAVIGATE INTO A POST-COVID-19 WORLD?
I’d say we’re trying to solve not just one, but many of the challenges that most media companies are tackling these days: budgets are being cut, more teams are working remote, and traditional ad revenue just isn’t reliable. Media execs are needing to find new ways to diversify their revenue streams and make the most out of their existing resources, without spending any additional time or money they just don’t have right now.
At the same time, distrust in the media is at an all time high – but so is the demand for video (and information in general). Video has become the best way for news brands to build a personal connection with their audiences, and build up the trust that’s been lost over the years.
Of course, our news video editor is a really great solution for all of these challenges. Wibbitz Studio makes it really easy for publishers to distribute information, in a really effective way. We’re passionate about being one of their go-to tools to keep audiences up to speed with the craziness of 2020 – so we’re always looking for new ways to improve our product, and showcase all the different ways it can be used to make a real impact on businesses by using it in our own content strategy.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT HOW MEDIA BRANDS ARE LEVERAGING VIDEO TECH IN A POST-COVID AND VIDEO-DRIVEN NEW CYCLE?
Demand for video – and in turn, video tech – really is at an all-time high right now. Because people are looking to keep themselves informed and entertained during these uncertain times, and they prefer to consume it through video. And it’s up to media brands to supply that demand on a pretty regular basis.
Conde Nast Italy’s team, for instance, is using both Wibbitz Studio and our automated video API solutions to scale editorial video production across seven of their brands. It’s helped them ensure a better user experience on every page of every brand’s site and social feeds, improve time to market to keep up with increased demand, and really make the most out of their existing recourses – because now, anyone on their team, from editors to writers to social managers, is able to create video content around every story.
AT THE MOMENT, SOCIAL VIDEO IN THE LEAD UP TO THE 2020 US ELECTIONS HAS TAKEN A SPOTLIGHT, DO YOU HAVE ANY INSIGHTS/THOUGHTS AROUND THIS YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH US?
Over the last decade, social video has gone from an extremely powerful campaigning tool to a central component of elections and the democratic process in general. It’s the best way for candidates to connect with the people, for news brands to inform the people, and for the people, in turn, to form their own opinions, and make sure that those opinions are being heard.
One thing I noticed this election cycle, from our own publishing customers’ videos, is that people are not just looking to news brands to cover the news. They’re looking for videos that put the news into context and connect with them on an emotional level.
For instance, on the week of the election, “Sarah McBride to Become First Transgender State Senator in US History” and “3 Ways to Deal With Election Day Anxiety” saw the most traction from our customers – more so than the video that announced Biden’s victory.
IN WHAT WAY HAS THE VIDEO CONTENT CREATION INDUSTRY CHANGED AND DEVELOPED OVER THE YEARS? WHAT ARE YOU THE MOST EXCITED ABOUT RIGHT NOW?
It’s gotten bigger, and it’s become more universal. There was a time not long ago that video (and video tech) was considered a nice-to-have. But now, it’s pretty clear to all media brands that video is a prerequisite for success. And as more video-centric platforms and channels are introduced, and become even more distributed, businesses will need more and more tools to help them stay on top of it all. And it’s up to us, the providers of those tools, to support that evolution.
Right now, I’m excited to see how video creation and video communications will become more integrated over the next few years. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for video content creation platforms to enable the real-time customization of live experiences, as streaming and video conferencing tools like Zoom become the norm for modern communication.
HOW DO YOU VIEW FUTURE OF VIDEO CONTENT CREATION AND AI/AUTOMATION?
Video is what people want to spend time with, and it’s the best way to connect media companies and publishers with their audiences – and now much of the tech industry is responding to this increasing demand. Google and social media platforms are all prioritizing video content; OTT platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video have permanently transformed consumers’ viewing habits; video conferencing platforms like Zoom have become primary methods for communication as remote work becomes the norm.
That’s why we’re witnessing an uptick in the usage of AI and machine learning technologies to simplify every element of video: from creation and distribution to analysis and optimization. And we can only expect that market to grow, as the online landscape continues to evolve, to be video-centric in all aspects. These days, we are all content creators – so we shouldn’t need to have an advanced skill set to share our stories and make real connections through video.