Interview with Reggie Yativ, Chief Revenue & Operating Officer at Agora.io
In this interview, Reggie Yativ, Chief Revenue & Operating Officer at Agora.io, a voice and video real-time communication platform, elaborates on helping brands engage with users and providing additional channels of interaction. An accomplished executive having led growth for both Fortune 500 companies and high-growth startups, Reggie brings more than 17 years of strategic commercial enterprise leadership and business management experience. Prior to Agora, Reggie was VP Sales at Redis Labs and earlier in his career, he served as Senior Director at Johnson & Johnson and CRO at Magic Software Enterprise
Tell us about your product/business and your specific role?
Agora is a global real-time communications (RTC) platform that powers voice, video, and interactive broadcasting for a wide range of applications. We serve a variety of industry verticals, including social media, online dating, mobile gaming, e-commerce, telehealth, and more.
I serve as the Chief Revenue & Operating Officer at Agora.io. I oversee all daily business operations and develop strategies to grow Agora’s customer base as well our technology suite. I’m in constant communication with our sales, marketing and developer teams, brainstorming new ways to serve our current customers, grow our services, and tailor our technology to new industries.
What is the core issue your product/technology aims to address and what sets it apart from the other players in the market?
It’s no secret that there are many players in the communications space, but not every solution offered is user-friendly. While the inner workings of our products are quite sophisticated and complex, we’ve designed a simple, end-to-end RTC solution that can be implemented into an existing app with just a few lines of code. We realize that building an entire technology stack to support a single feature, such as voice calling or video conferencing, is not an efficient use of time or money for many companies.
More importantly, our RTC technology utilizes a proprietary software-define real-time network that utilizes dynamic routing to ensure extreme low latency and high quality voice and video communications regardless of the user’s device, geographic location, or network conditions. We currently power nine billion minutes of communications per month and have 200 globally distributed data centers, which is far ahead of the competition.
What’s the one industry, sector or role that your technology is most relevant to?
Our customers range from dating and social discovery apps to mobile games, retail, telehealth, education and more. On the social side, we work with companies like MeetMe and Momo to power live broadcasting features that drive audience engagement and user monetization. In retail, we work with innovative companies like Gravy, the first-ever live mobile shopping game, to deliver unique retail experiences for brands while giving shoppers a way to score deals in real time. Through an on-demand therapy app called Talkspace, we help connect hundreds of thousands of patients and licensed mental health professionals through the app’s real-time voice and video calling feature.
While all of these companies have different services and business models, they want to engage with their users and create more channels for interaction. This is the common thread between all of our clients, no matter their vertical. Whether they want to communicate one-on-one or one-to-thousands, there’s an opportunity to connect through live video.
What are some of the common challenges your customers approach you with?
Our customers can be divided into two categories. Either they’re familiar with RTC and are looking for a new provider or they’re not familiar and are looking to experiment with voice, video and/or live broadcasting.
Usually the former customer has faced CPU and RAM usage issues. These problems aren’t unheard of, of course, but the company needs a small footprint solution that requires less bandwidth. Connectivity and lag issues are also typical, as many companies serve national and even global audiences. To ensure high-quality voice and video no matter a user’s geographic location, Agora utilizes 200 distributed data centers that connect over 100 countries.
The latter customer needs an easy-to-deploy solution. Our APIs are easy for developers to integrate, which means a company can have their new voice and video features up and running in as little as a few weeks or even a few days.
Using technology to affect transformation usually starts with a transformation of beliefs and mindsets. How do you consult enterprise clients and help them make that important shift in mindset to move ahead on a particular project or implementation?
First, I find out what the client’s goals are, and I hear out their ideas as to how they want to use our technology to meet those goals. This gives me a better understanding of what they know regarding what we do and their mindset in general.
As I stated before, engagement is important for our clients, but they usually don’t know what that looks like or what that potential engagement could do for their product or brand. We help them see the bigger picture. Sure, live broadcasting is great, but what does this experience give your users? How do they feel when they can engage this way? Is it contributing to a better overall experience? These are the kinds of questions we want them to consider?
And, of course, there’s also the discussion of monetization. Voice, video, and live broadcasting can open up a wealth of revenue streams for a business that they never thought possible. We make a point of laying out these potential opportunities for our clients because it inevitably changes the direction of the application and its uses.
Give us an example of an enterprise meeting a digital transformation goal through your product?
One of the most significant examples is also one of the most recent. Last year MeetMe, a social discovery and dating app, decided to implement a new “Live” feature that allowed users to broadcast themselves and watch other users’ broadcasts within the app.
The results were impressive, with 25% of users taking advantage of live video daily and 40% using it monthly. User satisfaction surged, within a year, live video had contributed $29 million to MeetMe’s annualized revenue. Live video was more than just an add-on; it became a new channel for interaction and a viable stream of revenue.
After the success of live video in MeetMe, other The Meet Group companies, including Tagged, Skout, and Lovoo, adopted Agora’s solution.
What present or upcoming technologies you think have the maximum potential to accelerate enterprise digital transformation?
There are countless technologies that can help enterprises accelerate digital transformation, like RTC, machine learning, conversational AI, blockchain, and many more, but the biggest trend we’re seeing across all categories is the growth of the API economy. APIs have surged in popularity in recent years, especially for highly complex technologies like RTC and AI.
APIs are especially attractive to enterprises because it means they don’t have to build these core technologies from scratch and instead dedicate resources to developing end-to-end applications for internal and external use. Enterprises can leverage APIs to test and roll out advanced functionality that would have taken years to build, and even longer to optimize. In the near future, I predict that most complex functions that aren’t user-facing will be powered by specialized APIs like ours.
What’s your go to resource – websites, newsletters, any other – that you use to stay in touch with the explosive changes happening in the digital space?
To follow the latest trends on enterprise digital transformation and the different platforms that are enabling it, I turn to websites like CIO, ZDNet and TechRepublic, which all do a great job at exploring different use cases and implementation strategies without getting too into the weeds.
Read a good book lately on digital transformation that you’d like to recommend to us?Digital to the Core: Remastering Leadership for Your Industry, Your Enterprise, and Yourself. This is a great pick for business leaders looking to tackle digital transformation in their companies head-on. It’s also a good mix of research as well as actual personal experience, as many high-level execs from top companies were interviewed for it.