VideoBlocks shifts CMO Leonard into CEO role as subscriber base passes 130K

Online video stock footage doesn't sound like a compelling market segment, but as content creators multiply, so does demand for high-quality video filler. That has driven a huge boost in subscribership at VideoBlocks, a Web-based stock video footage provider, which in turn is driving a minor strategy pivot as co-founder Joel Holland steps out of the CEO role and into a new position as executive chairman. TJ Leonard, formerly chief marketing officer, is taking over as CEO.

The move is designed to keep VideoBlocks moving forward in terms of partnering with online video mainstays for creators, like YouTube and Vimeo, as well as with comparatively new entrants like Discovery Networks and new media outlets such as Buzzfeed.

Leonard told FierceOnlineVideo that the new roles reflect bigger changes at the company. "One, we're a business of more than 60 people now and there's a sort of maturity that comes along once you get past those startup days," he said. "If you think back to the needs of the business when Joel first started it, he could play both of these roles. He could be kind of the day to day operator of a small team of five to 20 people and at the same time he was going out being sort of the face of the business within the industry."

Leonard estimated that Holland spent at least 25 percent of his time negotiating stock footage deals with the industry, such as its recent deal with Discovery Networks to place all of its unused video footage on VideoBlocks' Marketplace. "As the needs of the business evolved, what we realized is those are just multiple levels."

VideoBlocks has rapidly grown its subscriber base, made up of everyone from individual content creators posting video on YouTube or Vimeo, to much larger production companies needing HD-quality video footage. At year end the company had signed up more than 130,000 members. And in the fourth quarter of 2015, VideoBlocks signed up 50 percent more subscribers than in any other quarter since its launch in 2009. It also paid out more than $1 million in commissions to stock video contributors in its Marketplace section.

The pace of growth will only create more opportunities for VideoBlocks and its members, particularly as more and more OTT video services launch, many in niche categories such as specific sports or travel destinations.

"As the noise continues to increase with more and more content being created … one of the easiest ways to differentiate a project is to add in professional stock media that would take hundreds of thousands of dollars to create (otherwise)," Holland said.

Finding ways to add more stock video to both its subscriber pool and its Marketplace -- where contributors keep 100 percent of the commission from sales of their work to creators -- will help VideoBlocks compete against a slew of stock video providers. Its inventory will also give creators an edge in terms of creating standout videos, Holland said. "That's sort of our guiding principle at this point."

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