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Avid’s Rosica Reviews Year One

By Clive Young. Jeff Rosica became the CEO of Avid a year ago, ushering in a new era at the company. Now, in an exclusive interview, he looks back at his first 12 months and hints at what’s ahead.

Anaheim, CA—“We’ve been reshaping the company significantly since that day,” says Jeff Rosica, looking back at his ascent to the role of Avid CEO a year ago. With the abrupt termination of the company’s former leader Louis Hernandez Jr. in late February 2018, Rosica took on the mantle, drawing on a range of experience honed by three decades in the industry. Rosica joined Avid in 2013 as a senior vice president of worldwide field operations and worked his way up to president in 2016, so when he accepted the top spot last year, he notes, “I knew the company and the team really well. I have a different style, and an approach that’s much different than the previous individual, but I think it was pretty easy for me to jump in.”

What followed was a year of internal change within Avid as Rosica and the company closed the door on a five-year span that saw Avid undergo radical and often painful restructuring and layoffs as it closed, consolidated and moved offices and divisions around the globe. “I think we’re in a different era now—I mean, the transformation’s complete,” Rosica says.

Related: Avid Terminates Hernandez, Names Rosica CEO, by Clive Young, Feb. 26, 2018

With the restructuring done, Rosica aimed to quickly implement a new vision for Avid’s future. “It’s not that the company was on the wrong path,” he notes. “As I told the employees, we’re definitely in the right boat—we’re lucky to be a part of Avid—but this boat can be pointed to warmer waters and sunnier beaches. It was really just pointing the bow of the ship in the right way for the organization.”

That goal, too, required some alterations, this time at the executive level. “We spent a lot of time initially on the leadership, on the organization, on the culture, and then turned quickly to the business planning and strategy,” he says. Almost all of Avid’s executive team is brand new or has been promoted from within, and nearly all of it changed within Rosica’s first 100 days. “We’ve got a new CFO, a new head of products and technology, a new CTO, new CMO, new head of services and support and new head of HR. It really was to make sure that the right team was in place.”

Once that was taken care of, he says, it was time to change the ship’s course. Noting that in the past the company adhered to five-year plans with distinct beginning-middle-end frameworks, Avid will now operate under rolling three-year plans that will be updated annually, along with R&D efforts that often look as far out as seven years.

“With the vibrant communities we are a part of—music, sound, media, film, TV and everything else—you’d better be constantly reinventing,” says Rosica. “We’re basically in media technology, and … that allows us to take our technology and operate in all these areas, but we’re not trying to build one product to fit all markets; rather, we’re trying to have technology strategies and platform strategy. When we’re building a software platform and putting together a hardware platform, we’re looking across all segments to see how that technology can be utilized or leveraged in more than one market. That allows us to create more power in the products that we produce, [and] do so at good price points, because we’re able to leverage some of the core technologies to feed different markets.”

Avid at NAMM 2019 micro-site

One of those key strategies has been to find ways to connect customers. “As a company, collaboration is the core of everything we build,” says Rosica. “We always look at how we’re going to allow people to collaborate more easily, more efficiently, more powerfully.” That mindset resulted in the new Avid Link app, which debuted at NAMM, replacing the old Avid Application Manager app. While the free app allows users to upgrade products, check licenses and the rest, it also helps them find other people with whom to collaborate and connect. As Rosica sees it, “The business side of it for us is that if we can get people to connect and collaborate, then Avid tools are probably going to be part of what they’re going to want to do, so then all of our partners and ecosystems benefit there. But it really is about how we help people connect and collaborate. You don’t have to be an Avid customer; you can just be anybody who wants to be part of the community here.”

Related: Avid Connect: “Getting Stronger Every Year,” by Katie Makal, April 26, 2018

The building of community continues to be a priority for Avid, but that effort is in transition, too. Avid Connect, the annual multiday Avid Customer Association event held in Las Vegas just before the NAB Show, has been renamed Connect 2019 to better reflect the dozens of partners and sponsors that take part in the event. Similarly, Avid is stepping back from tackling most of Connect’s content development, bringing in a third-party organization to handle those chores. “There needs to be a partnership between Avid and the community, not just Avid on top of the community,” says Rosica. “We need to pull away from that, and that’s one of the changes we made during my leadership.”

Connect 2019 takes place during the NAB Show, April 6-7, 2019, at the ARIA Las Vegas. Register here.

While Connect and trade shows such as the NAB Show, AES and NAMM often provide high-profile launch pads for new Avid products, they might not dictate Avid’s schedule much longer. “I think that one of the criticisms I had of the company in the past is that we had a tendency to talk too soon and tell a big story way in advance,” Rosica notes. “People got very frustrated that they had to wait so long for a product, so I think now we’re not going to be beholden to the trade show circuit. When the product is ready, we’ll announce it—and in today’s day and age, you don’t have to be on the show floor to announce your product.”

What are some of those products going to be? Understandably, Rosica’s not saying, but he does note that some of Avid’s current three-year plan will see the company go after “an opportunity in the audio, professional audio and music space, including live sound” that was previously being overlooked, later adding that “what you’re going to see from the company is a bit of a doubling down in the space. Over the course of 2019 and even 2020, when you look at the product releases and some of the new things coming, I think everyone’s going to be pleasantly surprised.”

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