Daniel Kirschner, President & CEO, and Shawn Green, Chairman - Greenfly
Photo Credit Christine Solomon
On Greenfly’s fifth anniversary, our Co-founders Shawn Green and Daniel Kirschner reflect on the origins of the company, how their vision for social content has helped propel the current marketplace, and what they see ahead for the next five years. Plus, they share how the world got a tour of Lebron’s shoe closet.
1. Shawn, looking back, what experiences and interests prompted and prepared you to become a social media tech entrepreneur and create Greenfly when you retired from your Major League Baseball career?
Shawn - I’ve always loved tech and innovation. After I retired from playing, I was still getting incoming requests for interviews for videos and posting comments. Every time, I felt like I was starting over and it was a clunky experience. It felt like a good idea, from an athlete, brand and media company perspective, to develop a workflow solution to share content—whether it was brands, teams, leagues, or media companies. Also, when I was relevant to a current game, instead of having to be accessible at a particular moment—I wanted to stay relevant and they wanted a comment from someone relevant—I could have a vehicle to respond in my own way and time. I saw a gap in social media and continued to evolve the platform for that and grow it.
2. How did you two team up and what were your goals for the business? Any particular early challenges you had to overcome?
Daniel - We grew up together. I’ve known Shawn since I was born. We lived near each other for most of our childhood, then I moved to the east coast and he was on the west coast. I moved to Santa Monica to work at Activision; Shawn was brainstorming and talking to me a lot about the platform, and then I quit my job and started working with him.
At the time, we saw a radical shift with sports teams and leagues moving away from TV and broadcast to driving direct fan interactions through social media. Everyone now has a TV studio in their pocket and they can create content and make individuals part of conversations. We couldn’t predict how things would change. This was before the Stories format. There was a sea change in how people consume content online and a shift toward intimacy and authenticity. That shift has fueled an explosive growth in our business, and a shift in marketing and social media toward individual messages. We’ve become the platform to propel that shift forward. We make it easy for businesses to get their communities to be active in a really different way.
In the beginning, we made things hard for ourselves by sourcing HD video through locker rooms and on the floors of stadiums, so we ended up having to solve how to move large files from the phone to the cloud to the end user. One of our first contributors was LeBron James, who used the platform to give a tour of his shoe closet. We watched the package go up on the backend and it was one of the top performing videos on Bleacher Report for weeks. It was awesome.
3. Why is Greenfly important to brands today, five years in?
Daniel - Everything has moved in our direction and we’ve been there to propel it forward. We focused on intimate video before you could put a video on Instagram. The kind of content we helped spread is the kind of content people are watching now. In the beginning, everyone was wondering whether this video was the kind people wanted to see. The market has moved in our direction. We’ve made it possible for organizations and people to communicate and connect with someone they look up to in their community.
Shawn - With early customers, we saw how raw content performed better than polished content. It took two to three years for people to see that. Particular brands and people were used to putting a lot of money toward content; we showed them they could actually put a lot less money in and get a better result. There was an incredible shift because everyone knows that now. We’re sitting with this platform that’s over five years in development and it is a very well-built, enterprise product solving challenges and efforts to create raw and engaging content. It can work globally on any given day or hour.
4. What have been your proudest achievements?
Shawn - Three things come to mind: One, we’ve built a world-class team—from product and development to sales, marketing and customer success. Two, everyone says how intuitive and well-built our product is. It’s intuitive on both ends— the contributor side and the media or brand side. And three, we have some of the most impressive marketing and content-focused companies as customers and they love using Greenfly. The level of organizations that are completely reliant on our platform is pretty amazing. Most companies at our stage would love to have one or two of them. Our clients are some of the most respected brands globally.
Daniel - The content we’re enabling everywhere. It’s pretty incredible. We’re driving major political and social conversations. It’s amazing to drive big social moments, like when top athletes were reacting to the death of Muhammad Ali on social, they shared their thoughts through our platform. Or when Mike Trout wanted to make a tribute to a teammate, he did it with Greenfly. We have hundreds of millions of people who interact with this content. One pro team we work with breaks up their huddle with “Greenfly!” because they’re so excited they will be able to get content through the platform. It’s incredibly meaningful and makes me very proud.
5. What do you see ahead in the next five years?
Daniel - Greenfly is becoming the essential tool for creating and managing relationships. It works with the ecosystem to connect people with content at the right place and time. We see ahead automating via machine learning and other tech to better facilitate the creation and distribution of content at scale, which was impossible a year or two ago.
Shawn - We have more than a foundation—we have a well-built and well-rounded platform. We listen to what the market is polling and what customers want. It makes our jobs a lot easier. We know if at some point we want to do something, we have developers to do it. We see more machine learning, more tools to help organizations work together seamlessly and a lot of things we haven’t even thought of yet. The market will open up in other ways and we’ll be ready for those changes. Stories was not ready two years ago. Now we’re here. Our foundational platform now plugs into other platforms, and we’re looking at other countries for expansion and making all those integrations deeper.