Basic Info

Jason Hsiao
Contributor Status:
Native AdVice
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Career Info

Primary Industry:
Technology, Television / Film
Personal Career Headline:
Animoto Co-founder & Chief Video Officer

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Career Snapshot:

Jason Hsiao is the Co-founder and Chief Video Officer of Animoto, an award-winning online video maker that makes it easy for anyone to create professional marketing videos. Animoto’s certified partnerships with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the Small Business Administration give it unique insight into the changing social media and business landscape, which may be why more than 1 million businesses around the world have used Animoto to create marketing videos that stand out on social media and beyond. Prior to founding Animoto, Jason was a producer for MTV Networks and Comedy Central.

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How did you get into the industry?:

I’ve always loved video, even as a kid… making cool home movies with my school buddies.  Later in life, the opportunity to find a career as a TV producer for MTV and Comedy Central in NYC was in many ways a dream.  But what was even more exciting was witnessing the change all around us and the emergence of so many game changers… everything from mobile devices to social media to cloud computing.  It seemed inevitable that the role of video in our everyday lives was about to undergo some dramatic change. Instead of watching it all happen I felt the urge to be a part of it all.

Emerging industry trends?:

I used to have to spend more time explaining, “why video”.  But now it’s pretty obvious that the video wave isn’t just coming, it’s here now.  Video is literally everywhere and its importance in our world now and how we communicate is generally accepted.  What’s more, it’s not just a trend. There have now been countless tests and studies highlighting the effectiveness of video.  Stats like “People recall 6X the amount of information from a video than from text”, “Video generates 12X more shares on social than text + images combined”, and “Over 64% of people are more likely to buy something online after watching a video” are all pretty darn compelling.

Industry opportunities and challenges?:

Businesses are having to adapt their marketing efforts to an ever-changing landscape as heavily influenced by the dominance of mobile and time spent on social media. While video has clearly emerged as one of the best ways for businesses to stand out, it’s not easy.  It requires expertise and/or spending thousands (if not tens-of-thousands) of dollars to hire someone to produce videos for you.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?:

A core inspiration for our product & technology is believing that what happened with things like websites, emails, and graphic design will happen with video. For example, ten years ago it was not easy creating a website unless you knew HTML editors or wanted to spend $15K to hire someone who did. Today, anyone can create beautiful, professional websites with drag-and-drop builder tools like Squarespace and Wix. We strive to offer this same builder tool paradigm for video.  Though simple building blocks, a WYSIWYG interface and a collection of starter templates, Animoto makes it drag-n-drop easy for anyone to create beautiful, professional looking video on both web and mobile.

What's next for the Business in the near future?:

Halfway into our 10+ year journey, we realized we had no real focus.  For many years, the fact that we had so many types of customers seemed great. But serving so many different types of people and needs not only made it increasingly difficult to know how & what to prioritize, it made for an increasingly patch-work-quilt mess of a product experience.  The mounting strains eventually forced us to ask ourselves, “Would we rather be kind of good at lots of things? Or would we rather be best in the world at one thing?” We decided that serving the marketing videos needs of small businesses would be something we could do better than anyone else in the world. But it meant putting aside what we had invested 7 years developing and starting from scratch to build the right product for the right audience. At the time, that sacrifice was painful. But in retrospect, that was one of the more important decisions of our journey.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?:

Nothing is like the moment someone makes a video for the first time and seeing their faces when their video starts playing. It’s the magic moment we all live for and that makes all the blood, sweat, and tears that we’ve poured into the business worth it.

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What do you do best?:

According to my coworkers, I’m really good at PowerPoint slide transitions.  I also think I make pretty delicious breakfast sandwiches.

What are your aspirations? (Personal and Business):

To spend more time with my friends and family in real life than through my phone.

Biggest Success?:

Convincing my twin girls (age 6) that there are no such thing as triangles… only play buttons.


“If people like you, they’ll listen to you. If they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” – Zig Ziglar

Favorite People/Role Models?:

Jiro Ono (from the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi) and his tireless quest to improve and hone his craft. “Even at my age [of 85], after decades of work, I don’t think I have achieved perfection. But I feel ecstatic all day––I love making sushi.”

What Else To Know

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What do you love most about Your City?

New York City… diversity of people, interests, points of view, and food.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

Instagram @natgeo

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