Francisco Varela, Global Director of Platform Partnerships at YouTube, on his pet hates in the connected entertainment industry, the gadgets he could not live without, and the tech predictions he finds funniest in hindsight.
Francisco will be speaking at the TV Connect 2013 event taking place in London on 19-21 March 2013. For more information and to register, please visit www.tvconnectevent.com
What excites you most in your role as Global Director of Platform Partnerships at YouTube?
I was fortunate to join YouTube at the beginning of our mobile efforts, working with operators to bring video to phones. We did not lack skeptics, but we worked hard and started moving the needle in our direction.
Mobile devices now generate over 25% of all YouTube playbacks globally, and this number keeps growing. YouTube’s partnerships in devices will be a key growth driver for the company in the years to come.
I believe we will be a key part in changing how the world is informed and entertained. With more than seven billion people on earth, only two billion have ever accessed the Internet, and only one billion have smartphones.
Our device efforts are the likely means of reaching those people who have not yet had access to Internet services.
As the last years have shown us, once you give people access to information and commerce, they innovate in ways we could not have expected and end up changing the world.
What are your pet hates about the connected entertainment industry?
That’s an easy one: complexity. The TV is often the largest and most beautiful screen in the home for enjoying videos.
Regardless of your brand of TV, game console, or MSO, you should be able to enjoy YouTube on any device without having to re-learn how to use the application for that specific device. That’s simply not the case at the moment.
With new features like our “send to TV” that automatically pair your phone and your TV, and efforts with partners to improve latency and performance, we are actively fighting to simplify the experience across the device ecosystem.
What gadgets or apps could you not live without?
Like most people at the conference, my smartphone has become indispensable - whether for email, maps or videos, my phone comes with me everywhere.
My DVR would come next. With work and travel, it would be impossible to watch my favourite shows at their regular hour.
How do you like to unwind away from the office?
I am very lucky that San Francisco offers a year-round environment: I spend a lot of time outdoors with my daughter on walks, or more recently skiing in nearby Tahoe.
I also play tennis at least once a week, with an occasional golf outing with friends.
What tech prediction do you find funniest, looking back in hindsight?
There was a real belief as recently as five years ago that PCs would be essential to bringing the Internet to any country, and many were dismissive of mobile and TVs as primary device due to their limited capabilities.
These “second screen” devices are now our best path forward to bringing the Internet to emerging markets. They are quickly becoming the primary screens for connectivity.