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Grass Valley’s new CEO: “I vastly underestimated where we are in terms of technology”

TVBEurope talks to new Grass Valley CEO Andrew Cross about his first few days leading the company, and which piece of technology has blown him away

Grass Valley’s new CEO Andrew Cross tells TVBEurope he vastly underestimated the breadth of the company’s technology before taking up his new post.

Cross joined Grass Valley last week from Vizrt, where he was president of global research and development. He also served as CEO of NewTek before the company was acquired by Vizrt.

He acknowledges that the media and entertainment industry will move towards both software and cloud-based workflows, and that his vision for Grass Valley is to be the strongest player in the market. “We are going to help build this new landscape and work with everybody else to allow all the companies to work together to take the broadcast industry there,” he states.

Cross comes to the company as a well-known technology leader in the industry, which he believes will help him drive Grass Valley forward. “When I was doing my PhD, I made my first product in the evenings, driving my girlfriend who is now my wife, crazy,” he laughs. “But the challenge has never just been making great technology. Every start-up has got the best technology in the world. The challenge has always been, how do you make technology that goes out and makes a difference in the world and helps people do things that they couldn’t do otherwise?

“That’s what’s always driven me,” he adds, “and so while I come from the technology side, which means that I actually understand how the technology works, the thing that’s always driven me more is, ‘how do you bridge that gap between making great technology and making it relevant to to an industry?’ That’s hopefully what I can help the company do a little bit and why I actually think that people with my background often can make a big difference and make what we do hugely relevant instead of just about the numbers. We need to be doing things that make a difference for our customers. I feel that’s probably a good starting point.”

As a previous outsider looking in, Cross admits he hadn’t realised how far Grass Valley has come in terms of moving from hardware to software. “I did a lot of due diligence when I was offered the job,” he explains. “I asked all the people I know who know Grass Valley well what they thought and I got a lot of positive reactions. Quite honestly, I don’t think even I understood quite how far this company has come until I was within it. I think I vastly underestimated where they were in terms of technology and that is obviously absolutely great for me. Normally, you start at a company like this going, ‘here’s where we’re starting and it’s a two year process’. I feel that we’re so far ahead of that and I feel incredibly lucky that we’ve got all the ingredients we need already.”

Much of Cross’ background involves cloud and he believes that will stand him in good stead as Grass Valley continues its transition. “But you should ask me that question in two or three years,” he laughs. “I’ve got a good understanding of what we’ve got, and honestly, I’ve vastly underestimated quite what we’ve got before I worked here. I think we have a super exciting journey ahead of us.

“I’ve also spent hours sitting with the key engineering people and learning about the products,” he adds. “That’s a priority because if I don’t know the products, I can’t understand what we’ve got, how we position it. The great thing is being able to make connections between different parts when you’re out talking to somebody and you can suggest pieces of technology that can help them. If you don’t know the products, you don’t know the technology, you can’t put it all together in that way. That’s one of the things that I’ve always found the most enjoyable doing.”

Asked which part of Grass Valley’s product suite has caught his imagination so far, he quickly says the company’s Agile Media Processing Platform, otherwise known as AMPP. “What actually blows me away is the infrastructure part of AMPP. It’s amazing, and I don’t think that we have successfully communicated how amazing it is, because every TV station is built on infrastructure and everything else sits on top of that. If you think about infrastructure that connects on-prem to all the pieces in the cloud, that’s GV AMPP.

“The fact that we have this piece of infrastructure that can connect everything together so well, that is truly amazing,” Cross enthuses. “It’s just such a great opportunity, because now you can build lots of other pieces on top of that, and they’re all interconnected. They all become much bigger than the sum of their pieces. I think that foundation is a truly amazing thing that’s been created here.”