What’s old is new again: I’ve joined BrightSign as their Head of Software Engineering!

Ten years ago, right after I left Rackspace, I joined BrightSign for a year as a consultant. It didn’t work out to join them as an employee back then, and I went on to be VP Engineering at Cognitive Networks and then spent six years at Cisco as an Engineering Director, and then the last 18 months at AWS. But what is old is new again, and this time I’ve joined BrightSign as their Head of Software Engineering.

What Does BrightSign Do?

BrightSign is the market leader in digital signage players. I used them professionally when I was VP Engineering at PRN back in the day, so I’m well aware of how bullet-proof they are. They have continued that legacy and are making even more powerful players, such as their just announced XC5 Players that rival high-end PCs. Combined with their offering and the ability to integrate into other CMS they are poised for substantial growth.

What I’ll Do

I’ll head all software development, Integration Engineering, DevOps, and QA. What exactly does that mean? I’m not 100% sure since I just started! I’ve spent tens of hours so far with thier CEO Jeff Hastings and VP Engineering Phil Blundell discussing their business and aspirations. But there’s nothing like getting into it personally. You can’t learn to swim by talking or reading. You have to dive into the water!

Yes, I’m Hiring!

First thing most folks ask is “are you hiring?” which is really silly these days. Yes of course! Even with the economy, anyone building software is hiring. Check out the list of open roles and ping me if anything looks interesting to you.

Wait… You Left AWS?

Yep. I loved the Amazon Chime SDK team and product. I think they are poised for a breakout year, especially in telephony. If you want to connect voice to Amazon ML services, then you should be using the Amazon Chime SDK. It’s just too easy. If you have phones and your customers call you, you probably need the Amazon Chime SDK.

But alas, BrightSign has wanted to hire me for a long time, and Jeff finally got me. It’s time. And I get to lead a product team again.

But Why Now?

BrightSign has a tremendous product line and a successful cloud offering. They are poised for a breakout year as well. Their new XC5 player enables a whole new world of applications that previously required a PC. Back at PRN my teams managed a network of 50,000 players. I can tell you that rolling trucks to fix players costs too much. PRNs Checkout TV platform was PC based, and even at ~10 PCs per store and hundreds of stores it was simply not economically viable. Had we had BrightSign players then we could have dramatically scaled that line of business. And if you want the bells and whistles that today’s graphics demand you are in a bind. But BrightSign has done the hard Engineering to make a true embedded system media player that has PC-level capabilities. This will change the game.

I was well aware at PRN that our ability to scale our digital signage business was limited to what retailers we could get under contract to deploy our network into. We had our own CMS software and a fully capable company built out. But scaling was slow, and the money we spent developing that CMS was substantial. BrightSign has their own CMS offering that’s perfectly fine for many applications. But today there are dozens of companies building CMS tools for signage, because there is no “one size fits all.” No one can have all the features in one software platform suitable for the very wide number of use cases in signage. BrightSign has a way for all those CMS vendors to easily integrate with the player, making it almost as if the BrightSign player was built for their platform. This makes BrightSign even more ubiquitous. The opportunity is huge, but the software has to be world-class. That’s what I was hired to do: scale out the software team and help drive all the “ilities” (reliability, scalability, etc).

What’s on Deck?

Cloud, baby! And scale! Stay tuned. Oh, did I say I was hiring?

Watch this space!

Disclaimer: as usual, all opinions here are my own and not my employer.