Music video platform Vevo is expected to roll out redesigned video watch pages as well as new artist pages on its website Thursday evening. The changes reduce the clutter on Vevo.com and complete a relaunch that started earlier this year with a close Facebook integration and an emphasis on longer play times. The changes were primarily driven by the company’s new San Francisco-based product team. The team is headed by the company’s product and tech SVP Michael Cerda, who recently told me that he had a kind of mantra for Vevo’s new design: “Honor the video.”
Vevo’s previous video watch page offered a list of related clips in a sidebar, a playlist at the bottom and a lot of other information sprinkled across the page. The new page does away with most of that, and instead offloads artist information to a new page that opens as an overlay (or modal box, as web designers like to call it). It’s much cleaner, with a bigger focus on what really matters to Vevo: the play button. Pandora(s P), said Cerda, has been a great inspiration for this kind of simplicity.
Cerda isn’t afraid to point to these kinds of inspirations. As a matter of fact, they’re the reason that he left Vevo’s New York office to build out a product team in San Francisco. He wanted to be closer to the startup scene, and that simply wasn’t possible with a glitzy music industry office in Times Square. “The ecosystem was restricted to just that floor,” he said.
In San Francisco, inspiration is everywhere, and things are decidedly more low-key. Cerda’s team of seven initially worked out of his garage, and moved into a small downtown office just a few weeks ago. Tables were still being assembled when I stopped by earlier this month, and everything looked more like a small startup than a major label-backed music platform.
One computer in the space was dedicated to a permanent Google+ Hangout with the New York office, where Vevo’s iOS (s AAPL) developers are working on the next steps in mobile. In San Francisco, the team is working on improving the Android (s GOOG) experience, and getting ready to take on the living room next.
Vevo rolled out its Xbox (s MSFT) app this spring, and Cerda told me that it “turned out to be wildly successful.” That’s why he wants to take Vevo to other connected TV platforms as soon as possible. “There is a huge opportunity for us there,” he told me.
Cerda’s previous stints include being the CEO and cofounder of VOIP startup Ooma and a VP of messaging technologies gig at Myspace. The biggest lesson he learned in those years was “not to overbuild product,” he said, but instead to take small steps and continuously improve things. Vevo used to roll out new product builds every two months or so. Cerda switched to a weekly schedule. “I like to develop and release early and often,” he told me, explaining that he started to involve the whole company in testing these product iterations before they roll out to Vevo’s user base. Said Cerda: “I’ve made the company my extended QA team.”