After six incredible years at the rocket ship that is Tubi, my time has come.
As I prepare and seek my next challenge and adventure, in this space I’ll reflect on some of the broad learnings of the past six years. This will be the first of a series of three blog posts with future posts on: 1) Building a high-performance finance function and what worked for us at Tubi + 2) Evaluating and motivating a team.
Tubi reshaped the streaming landscape through a free Ad-supported Video On-demand (AVOD) platform appealing to consumers & advertisers of all stripes. This three-way marketplace; content partners + direct consumers + advertisers; was the brainchild of Farhad Massoudi; a true visionary who effectively created the AVOD category & a company in Tubi to lead this space. Tubi now reaches 64M+ users.
Fox acquired Tubi in April 2020 for roughly $500M. With Farhad Massoudi’s (CEO & Founder’s) departure earlier in June & conclusion of our three-year commitment post-acquisition, and given our close-knit CEO-CFO partnership, it is time for me to also move on.
Over my six-year tenure we grew Tubi by leaps & bounds:
Revenues grew by roughly 50x
Engagement & viewing hours grew by roughly 150x
Viewership & user base grew by roughly 40x
Headcount supporting this growth expanded from 50 to 700 employees
While managing costs & being the most capital efficient major streaming service
That is we did all of this with a keen focus on managing costs, building a streaming service which has been at least 10x more efficient in capital use and cost expenditures relative to competitors (compare Fox’s earnings calls and Tubi’s quarterly EBITDA to other streamers, AVOD and SVOD).
Fox’s Aug 8th earnings call captured Tubi’s fiscal year 2023 (Jul 2022 — Jun 2023) performance as “nothing short of spectacular, underpinned by growth in [consumption or] Total View Time [+79%], which in turn powered revenue growth [+47%]”; with “tremendous growth at Tubi this past quarter and in fact, all year”; with “fiscal fourth quarter [being] its most impressive of [the fiscal year] . . . making Tubi the number one AVOD player, with consumption levels equal to a top five cable network”. And that Tubi is “an absolute shining light from [Fox’s] growth portfolio”.
Tubi’s dominance has also been captured by Nielsen where Tubi is the undisputed AVOD leader.
In short, we came, we built, and may just have conquered our sliver of the market.
It has been an incredible and exhilarating journey for the past six years working closely with Farhad, and the Tubi team. We navigated the many peaks and valleys and did not waiver from the vision or our resolve. In raising funds, we met with hundreds of VCs to hear them critique Tubi and AVOD as a category, to dismiss us time and again before we were able to secure debt and equity rounds and advance the company. Some potential investors could not believe the efficiency of the model and the minimal capital needs under our management, some believed we would not stand a chance against the competition the likes of Roku and the behemoth of Amazon, some were adamant that we should pursue an SVOD model instead, some wanted to change the entire business, some wanted us to replicate models of prior entertainment businesses, and nearly all had a hard time grasping the business beyond the surface.
This startup phase came to an end in April 2020, three years after my joining Tubi, when Fox Corporation acquired Tubi for roughly $500M ($440M transaction plus deal considerations totaling $500M). The acquisition created a streaming arm for Fox in Tubi, especially within AVOD, and supercharged Tubi’s revenue growth and reach while also providing an exit for Tubi’s early investors. This transaction and leading the diligence from the Tubi side is one of the highlights of my career at Tubi.
I have lived and breathed Tubi; Tubi runs in my blood and DNA. I often felt as though I was not working but building the future and that vision of getting closer and closer to being the dominant free streaming platform. With that mindset, I was energized and just could not get tired. My average workweek spanned from early mornings to late nights and weekends throughout my six years, packed with back-to-back meetings daily (up to 20 in a day), supplemented with uninterrupted work sessions early in the mornings, late at nights and over weekends where I caught up and planned ahead for the business. The life & single-mindedness of a “start-up”; I can’t remember a week that was less than an 85+ hour work week throughout the six years. At the same time, I strived to avoid weekend work for my team and we succeeded in avoiding the weekend burden on the team for the most part, with a few occasional exceptions ahead of quarterly reviews.
I often reflected on the opportunity at hand. People around the world (in places I lived and grew up in or where I’ve been through my life: www.rezastory.com) would do anything to have the basic standards of life, liberty and impact through work that all of us have. Beyond these essentials, many right here in the US and in our industries work a lifetime to have a shot at an outsized impact and that rare of chances of building something great, a platform, winning a sub category and a sub industry. I am lucky and that vision has kept me motivated throughout my life and at Tubi.
I started at Tubi in 2017 as a team of one, in an advisory capacity to the CEO. By the time I left, our team of Finance (Accounting and FP&A), Business Operations & Strategy, and Growth & Performance Marketing had grown to 60, with exceptional and diverse talent across the entire team, covering numerous critical functions that not only supported the business day to day but also empowered Farhad and I to make the most critical of decisions at each juncture.
Thanks & The Future
There is not enough I can say to thank each and every member of my direct team across
i. Finance (Accounting and FP&A),
ii. Business Operations & Strategy and
iii. Growth & Performance Marketing teams.
Their dedication and day-in-day-out rigor, their tireless pursuit to challenge themselves and produce some of the highest quality cutting edge work products; their outstanding outputs and some of the deepest analytical insights across not just streaming but also any industry deserves recognition. A very special thanks to each member of my direct team as well as past contributors:
Neil Rapmund, Vrej Barghamian, Jackie Vo, Cynthia Yusuf, Elisa Procope, Sejal Desai, Nida Ithiphol, Julie Sproul, Jessica Li, Hassan Jamil, Dhanup Kandarapally, Maggie Ren-Dang, Rebecca Inbaraj, Thomas Scarponi, Daniel Felsenstein, Jamie Winkler
Amy Vergel de Dios, James McNamara, Jeffrey Chan, Jacob Kuruvilla, Grant Harbour, Farbeen Safa, Elizabeth Killea, Supreeti Sharma, Carolyn Chu, Jacob Karagoz, Loic Pichot
Jesse Wilson, Michael Rancourt, Richard Joyce, Tanima Chaturvedi, Yvette Valijan, Julie Jang, Shannon Wong, Siddharth Ramanuj, Tri Luong, Andrew Sims, Paige Farlin
Azad Jacobs, Hao Zhao, Dan Bowman, Jason Hsu, Rohan Reddy, Ibrahim Hayek, John Huynh, Mark Bracamonte, Keven Nguyen, Shannon Chang, Allison Lau, Yuting Chen, Kaelyn Castillo, Holly Warendorf, Xueling Chen, Carlos Romero
Terry Wilson, Kevin Brazitis, Sam Guertin, Hellen Liu and Reeti Raswant.
Six years went by in a flash, but the learnings and growth will leave a lasting impact. So, to each and every person I interacted with during my time, especially within Tubi but also outside Tubi, thank you for helping me learn and become a better version of myself.
To all my peers and colleagues who leaned into engaging constructive outcomes, thank you for the wins and to those who disagreed with me and pushed me beyond my comfort zone, thank you for challenging me. In my role as CFO, CSO and operator, I often had to hold the line on budget and cost constraints. That proved to be invaluable as Tubi became a far more efficient streaming model relative to all others in the industry where our competitors were racking up billions in losses while Tubi closely controlled and managed costs. We also agonized over the definition of success at each stage and measurement of metrics, to keep us honest on how we evaluated ourselves. This proved instrumental in leading in the long run and building a lasting leadership position predicated on KPIs that mattered to building the right business. We steered away from a culture of self-promotion or one of chasing vanity metrics with short term wins and long-term derailment. At each point we were guided above and beyond to achieve the best long-term outcome for Tubi in aggregate.
Farhad & I leave Tubi in the best shape it has ever been with record viewership, record engagement, record revenue & in sound financial health to continue fueling future growth.
To the Fox leadership team Lachlan Murdoch, John Nallen, Steve Tomsic, Viet Dinh, Paul Cheesbrough, & Marianne Gambelli, thank you for embracing our vision for Tubi & providing the runway of the past three years since acquisition. Looking forward to Tubi’s continued meteoric growth under your leadership.
A special thanks to all the superstars at Tubi who made it all possible and left their mark including some of the long-tenured stars of past and present: Tyr Chen, Chang She, Blake Bassett, Ashley Whelan, Andrea Clarke-Hall, Taylor Sibbern, Tyler Fitch, Cynthia Clevenger, Neil Fankhauser, Adriana Becerra, Samuel Harowitz, Chun Shang, Dan Zhao and the many many others; there are too many talented individuals and teams to list and there are many more who left their mark, some probably in ways I did not even see in detail or got to know in depth.
Thanks to each of my C-suite peers & their respective teams:
Michael Ahiakpor, Marios Assiotis, Carolyn Forrest, Adam Lewinson, Nicole Parlapiano, Mark Rotblat, and Natasha Valani.
Anjali Sud, Tubi’s incoming CEO, welcome!
Tubi family, as I transition from CFO & CSO to a consumer of Tubi, I will cheer you on with each win & milestone; GO TUBI!
Thanks to the VCs who believed & funded Tubi in the early years: Foundation Capital, Cota Capital, Jump Capital, Danhua Capital, MGM, Lionsgate, & Tegna. And Tubi’s board of directors for steering Tubi through growth & final acquisition: Joanne Chen, Ashu Garg, Bobby Yazdani, Yelena Shkolnik, Sandy Grushow, & Brett Wilson.
Thanks to Ali Esfahani and Marcie Vu from Qatalyst for facilitating and navigating Tubi’s acquisition with us. Thanks to Justin Lancer, Raphael Toubian, Charlie Collier, Amy Carney, and Jeff Acosta and many others at Fox for their partnership in the early days of Fox’s acquisition of Tubi.
A special thanks to the many named and unnamed who have believed in me through my life’s journey. I have always said and believed: I am lucky to be here.
From here I’ll take time to rest & reset. Yet at my core I am yearning to do it all over again. I can’t wait to explore the opportunity space in the coming months & find the next challenge, adventure, & chapter. More on that to come.
Stay tuned for my next blog on building a high-performance finance function!
Tubi or not to be. Be Free.
Find me on LinkedIn.