Do you want to become a Chief Technology Officer, or are you just curious about the role?

If you want your keyboard to remain your closest friend, you can stop reading right here, being a CTO is much more than just being a talented developer. But if you want to get some insights from three experienced Barcelona-based CTOs, please continue reading.

Investing time in your team is the most important task, even more important than focusing on your product.

Right place at the right time

Roger Campos from Camaloon (to the left) says that personal experience is much more important than how many years you have worked in a company.

In the startup world not all decisions within the company are carefully planned and executed according to the planned strategy.

Pau Ramon Revilla, former CTO of Redbooth, and currently founder at Factorial felt he was at the right place at the right time when stepped up as CTO for the first time.

I started at Redbooth, living on the founders sofa in San Francisco, coding for a roof over my head, so I wasn’t a very expensive developer. But as I went back to Barcelona, the former CTO and the tech lead left, and I was asked to be the new CTO.

For others it’s more of a transitioning after starting a company from scratch.

Both Albert Bellonch at Quipu and Roger Campos at Camaloon founded their startups, and gradually grew into the CTO role as their companies grew. Roger never really set out to become head of tech at Camaloon:

It was never a goal of mine to become a CTO, but you take on responsibility and do your best to grow a great team.

The biggest challenge — new developers

A huge challenge for most CTOs these days is finding talented developers in a highly competitive job market.

CTO Pau Ramon Revilla and Roger Campos says personal motivation is key when hiring new developers.

But what kind of developers are most tech leaders looking for?

They all agree that the most important aspect when hiring, is personal motivation, and if the person is willing to go deep in all kinds of challenges he or she faces.

Experience is important, but having worked for many years, is not necessarily the only metric that is valued, say Roger:

If a developer has worked in five different jobs the last years, doing the exact same task, to me he is less experienced than a younger developer, that has worked on many personal projects and faced complex challenges.

Pau gives junior developers two tips:

The startup world may be too harsh for many junior developers. To get the right kind of experience I would advice to contribute a lot in open source, and maybe take a job in a big corporation the first years.

https://upscri.be/285782-2

Invest in people

People have different skills and methods on how to lead a technical team, but the three CTOs agree that people is the most important focus for them in their work. Pau explains:

Depending on the company, most of the time the development team will be the most valuable asset, sometimes even more than the product itself.

All the CTO’s agree, and Roger says:

My biggest task and most important mission is to talk with people. Talk with my team, with the rest of the company and external people, that’s most of my job.

I keep coding to keep my sanity

Albert Bellonch (to the left) is still coding every day at Quipu, but will soon have to stop to code on a daily basis because his team is growing a lot.

It’s no secret that time spent coding decreases a lot when you move over to the role of being a leader.

Albert is currently leading a 4–5 development team at Quipu. He’s happy he’s still able to code every day:

I still code on a daily basis, and I’ve been able to create some cool new features for Quipu, but as my team grows by the months, I will soon stop coding every day.

Soft skills

A developer that has the aspiration of becoming a CTO should have a lot of experience, but there’s also other skills that are vital, says Pau:

Focus on the soft skills, you need to be able to reach a consensus with people, not only focus on your own opinions.

All the CTOs agree that you don’t need to be the best developer in the company to lead the development team, but there are some skills that are good to know these days, according to Roger.

It’s hard to point to one kind of technology, because everything depends on what kind of project you’re working on, but Javascript is probably the safest bet for a developer today.

(If you want more insights, check out the video at the top!)

……..

This post was written by Sindre Hopland and the video was edited by Masumi Mutsuda — the itnig media team.

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T.

The reasons why Disney will dominate the media industry

The perception that Disney is only a producer of children’s content is long gone. The company has managed to multiply by 10 its market capitalization in 10 years and I believe it will do it again in the next 10 years based on 3 factors: content, the entry in new businesses and spillover effects on current businesses.

CONTENT

Disney has been making movies for almost a hundred years. They have been movies for all the family but targeted to kids, which are the ultimate decision-makers when going to the movies. This is an example of the classical content they were producing up until the last 10 years.

Found in Pinterest https://www.pinterest.es/pin/129548926755761740/

Despite having a powerful content library, Disney has amassed the most impressive collection of content in the world via acquisitions:

  • 21st Century Fox: 71B
  • Lucasfilm (2012): 4B
  • Marvel (2009): 4B
  • Pixar (2006): 7B
  • Hulu (2009): ??. They acquired 30% and an additional 30% with the acquisition of Fox

With the recent acquisition of Fox, there are only big four other movie studios left in the market: SonyWarner BrosUniversal, and Paramount.

Just to give perspective. This is the list of the top 3 grossing movies for the last 3 years. Spoiler, they are all from Disney:

  • 2017: Star Wars The Last Jedi (rubbish if you ask me), Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (not great) and Beauty and the Beast.
  • 2018: Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Incredibles 2.
  • 2019: Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel and Aladdin (Still not counting with Toy Story 4, Spiderman, The Lion King, Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The rise of Skywalker)

Having content as an asset in the movie industry is relevant because of the fact that over 90% of every year’s Top Box Office Hits are not original. Notice that the 9 hits mentioned above are not original content, including Captain Marvel which is a character well known despite debuting in theaters. Moviegoers are risk-averse and showing characters the public is familiar with is synonymous of success in a market where the production of a movie can cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Another essential part of the content are the actors. They give credibility to a movie and top talent can’t wait to appear on a superhero movie. Just look at the roster of Avengers Endgame with cameos from the likes of Robert Redford, Rene Russo, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Natalie Portman, William Hurt, Samuel L Jackson or Ken Jeong, the Asian character on The Hangover. All of this without accounting for the main characters. Where else can you see this?

Source: https://www.editorchoice.com/avengers-endgame-cast/

NEW BUSINESS

One of the acquisitions mentioned is Hulu, a streaming platform in the US which also allows watching live content. I believe this is the future. Cable TV operators are doomed. The number of subscriber to Cable TV in the US has declined over the past years.

Source https://www.statista.com/statistics/536356/cable-shopping-networks-revenue-usa/

It’s clear the consumers are opting in to streaming on-demand platforms such as Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. That’s why Disney is launching Disney +.

This is a global trend. People across the world may not own a TV, but they have smartphones and internet connection. Netflix has launched a 3$ monthly cell-only subscription in India. Check this relentless growth of subscribers by Netflix.

Take a look at the last Shareholders report by Netflix, a public company that is burning billions every year -3,5B$ in 2019- and is expected to invest 15B$ in 2019 alone in new content. In my humble opinion, Netflix has by far the best streaming platform and the content is remarkably good, just look at the masterpiece Stranger Things season 3.

Source: https://s22.q4cdn.com/959853165/files/doc_financials/quarterly_reports/2019/q2/Q2-19-Shareholder-Letter-FINAL.pdf

Netflix will be the main competitor of Disney, who will claw back its content from other platforms over the next years, reducing the earnings of licensing rights, but attracting customers to their platform. I believe there will be a time where platforms won’t share much content, but eventually, this will rise opportunities for multiplatform viewing apps and some years from now, platforms will reshare content once they settled a loyal customer base. Users will be subscribed to multiple platforms and they would still like to watch what’s best in every one of them. It’s not a winner take it all market.

My final bet is that there’s another big piece of content that is currently slipping away from streaming platforms, live sports. This is the last resort of traditional TV and cable TV operators who have been able to tell customers when and where to watch TV. This is no more, TV is dead.

SPILLOVER EFFECTS

Let’s get some perspective here. Disney is a corporation that currently (2019) has annual revenues of around 70B$ and a net income of around 13B$ (15–20%). Where do they make money from? This is a comparison YoY between the fiscal years ended on September 30th. of 2018 vs 2017. All areas grow except for merchandising. Figures in B$.

Source: company reports

MEDIA

The main source of income is Media Network, which comes from ESPN, Disney Channel, ABC… Here’s the evolution of this revenue stream fro the last decade.

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/193211/revenue-of-walt-disneys-media-network-business-since-2008/

With the acquisition of Fox, this chart is going to experience a huge vertical shift.

PARKS AND RESORTS

Parks and resorts are the second biggest revenue stream of the Mickey Mouse company.

Walt Disney World Resort (Flick: Atiq Nazri)

This is a chart with the number (in millions) of yearly by visitors by each park. Around 150 million people go to a venue managed by Disney somewhere on the planet. This can only be achieved by a great hospitality experience and the best content:

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/194247/worldwide-attendance-at-theme-and-amusement-parks-since-2010/

STUDIO

This is the revenue that comes from the distribution of movies and music.

The chart below displays the Box Office market share evolution. Disney has managed to multiply by 2,5 in ten years, and now with the inclusion of Fox, the market share could get just shy of 50%, which is ridiculous. This is a major spillover effect from the massive content acquisition.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/14/disney-on-pace-to-earn-9-billion-at-the-global-box-office-in-2019.html

DIRECT TO CONSUMER

This is where the new platform Disney + will come into play. Disney + is a SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand) as far as we know. Other alternatives are AVOD (Advertising Video on Demand) where the users access for free but get adds (Youtube) and TVOD (Transactional Video on Demand) which is what Google is doing among others.

One of the first screenshots Disney shared for Disney +

So far they have had Hulu in this category, but with the introduction of Disney +, this will become of the main revenue streams for Disney. Eventually, the main one if you ask me. My guess is that in one year, Disney + can produce revenues of about 20B$ and grow from there. This is what Netflix is doing right now.

The advantage of Disney + is that they already have the content and they would only need to produce specific content for the platform such as The Mandalorian or the Marvel spinoff series with Black Widow and more. That would imply big operating profits since most content has already been amortized. The downside, however, will be the loss of the licensing revenue they get from streaming onto other platforms included in the Studio section. I’m betting this will be a money-printing machine.

CONCLUSION

Disney is a company that has endured through decades and over the last years has taken on a path of content acquisition and generation that pays off very well. This is why I am “hodling” on its stock.

Disney’s stock price evolution over the years