#3, Hulu, Why?

Fast Company recently published its version of the world’s top 50 most innovative companies. Although I would question why Intel is among top10, what surprised me most is the fact that Hulu is listed #3. I know there might be political things about the particular order, as it goes with most ranking, but it would be also interesting to find out “why Hulu, not others”.


Hulu, an online video streaming company, managed to do something which YouTube failed to do. Copyright is one of YouTube’s headaches, but it is incredible positive thing for Hulu, because it is built intentionally aimed to server property content by two major stream media dogs, NBC Universal and Fox.

{YouTube, watch someone’s DIY video} VS { Hulu, watch TV & Movies online legally} -> Similar but different market niche.

People might be asking, why NBC and Fox executives don’t rely on YouTube to serve their plays? You can imagine following conversation which probably happened behind the scene:


Hey, YouTube, are you interested in serving my video to the world?


Why not. Let’s sit down and take a look at this. Now we are owned by Google, and we are overwhelming dominator in online video market. We have great brand. We have great infrastructure. We have most talented engineers. Blabla… (down to the point) so you have to pay x dollar for every minute show.


uh-um… let me do some math here. Plan A is to work with YouTube, plan B is to build up something myself. In next 3-5 years, if everything goes as predicted, plan B will bring much more money to our shareholders than plan A, and less risky.

YouTube(ping NBC/Fox):

What do you think of the plan?


Nice plan, but no, thanks.

This is the first site who delivers property video to your computer for free. Traditional Media Company gradually realized that they have to embrace the changes if they are not able to prevent them. It is online streaming, in this case. Hulu has more than 120 sources now.

Key is property content sources are nonrenewable rare resources.


Hulu’s CEO said to capital angels, “I don't think you'll be seeing the name Fox or NBC on the site hardly at all, Hulu is about the shows, not the networks. The shows are the brands that users care about." Another quote, “the key to Hulu's success is its freedom to operate essentially as a stand-alone company…”

From startup’s perspective, captical can be good thing, or bad thing. It can help you grow much faster, but it can also easily enable you miss your initial goals. Capital often appoints some seemingly smart guy, who is with XYZ MBA degree or n years of experience in ABC company, to take over the company as one of its investment agreements.

That is indeed one of the worst investment risk controls, although it happens again and again. Give money to most passionate guys, and letting them be passionate always is the only way to maximize the probability of getting most out of your investment.

Feature?Solution? Experience !

Question: If you are given a task to build a video streaming site within less than 3 months, what would you do?

We were taught this way:

1) Identify who will be using your site

2) Draw use case diagram

3) List scenarios for each user role

4) To support each scenarios, figure out needed features

5) Design/Code/test your features

6) Go live

7) Yeah! Party! :- )

If you follow this in your next interview, I can almost guarantee a pass. Do we miss anything? Actually we missed most critical one – Experience! Experience is a combination of brand/feeling/easy-to-use/enjoyable process. For example, given below requirement:

"Design something which is used to sit on, commonly for use by one person. It often has the seat raised above floor level, supported by legs."

People will respond immediately, "Chair!". You may notice that there are at least hundreds of types of chairs in the world, if not thousands of, if not millions of. Only most imaginative ones who deeply understand that particular set of users’ needs, care about their feelings and eventually apply those into product designs can do the best work. Let us take a look at "art of chair".

Art of Chairs

Be COOL, in show time, although you might have the similar hard time figuring out what some of them really are. :-) Just like someone said about iTune – “iTune is not selling features. iTune is selling experience.”

Hulu’s key experiences:

1) Simple

2) Larger screen

3) High-resolution video

4) Clutter-free

5) Quality control

6) Free to users

7) No download

8) Obsessed with users