A 'Top 10 Woman to Watch in Tech', on $145m Exit & $25m Funding

Dr. Michal Tsur is the President and Co-founder of Kaltura, the world's first and only open source online video platform with over 300,000 customers, includingGroupon, Zappos, Wikipedia and Best Buy.

2012 was a great year for Michal, with Kaltura securing $25 million in a Series D funding in November; and opening new offices in Asia and Europe.

 Michal is an experienced entrepreneur with many years of knowledge of technology startup work. Michal co-founded Cyota, a leading player in the anti-fraud space,  and was part of its management team from its inception up until its acquisition by RSA Security, Inc for $145M (US) in 2005 (RSA was subsequently acquired by EMC Inc.

Michal holds a doctoral degree in application of game theoretic models to law from New York University, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Yale Law School's Information Society Project where her research focused on Open Source, Memetics, and evolutionary game-theory. Michal also clerked at the supreme court of Israel.

Michal was recently named in Inc’s 10 Women to Watch in Tech in 2013.

We spoke to Michal about selling Cyota for $145m; about how she ensures her company stays at the cutting edge of technological advances; and about her recent $25m funding round.

TNW: How did you come up with the idea for Kaltura and then arrive at the decision to turn your idea into a reality?

MT: Kaltura started as a team connection between 4 founders, and only then the actual idea and focus was initiated.  We first picked each other as partners, and then decided what we would like to do. Our current focus on transforming the way people learn work and entertain with video, is an evolution of our earlier focus on collaborative video creation.

TNW: How did it feel to sell Cyota for $145m? Was it hard to walk away from the company that you co-founded and ran for 7 years? What other options did you consider at that time and why did you choose to pursue Kaltura?

MT:

As they say, every ending is a new start as well. On the one hand it is extremely exciting to sell a company. On the other hand, it is like giving up on your own efforts.

As the results show, Cyota did indeed create and bring more value in the hands of RSA Security and later on EMC. The options we had at Cyota were to either grow Cyota to be the largest and best security and anti-fraud company, or to sell, and build that visión with others. The acquisition was successful, and that is also something to be proud of, as the products and services are continuing to bring value.

After the acquisition, i knew immediately that I wanted to build something new, and preferably in a new and exciting area, and Online Video was an exciting area to explore.

TNW: What were the key lessons you learned during your time with Cyota which you went on to apply to launching and running Kaltura?

MT: I learned about the challenges in managing teams, finding great talent, keeping morale high and continuously improving and iterating on the product side. These lessons were invaluable and have helped me tremendously at Kaltura.

TNW: What challenges did you encounter with Kaltura’s international expansion to Asia and Europe and how did you overcome these?

MT:

International expansion involves human challenges, as well as operational, product and marketing challenges. 

Building a global organization that shares the same vision and knowledge foundation is challenging.

On the product side we invested significantly in supporting other languages. On the HR side we transitioned key executives to other geographies in order to build local leadership that is strongly connected to Kaltura foundations. Operationally we have developed better internal collaboration tools and actually rely heavily on Kaltura’s own CorporateTube product in order to share knowledge internally and collaborate with Video.

TNW: How do you ensure your company stays at the cutting edge of technological advances?

MT:

We spend a lot of time and resources on recruiting some of the best developers and engineers in the world.

We also constantly attend conferences, talk with industry leaders and read about the latest developments in our sector, so that we stay on top and ahead of every developing trend and technological advancement. 

Additinally, our aspiration is to continuously drive value for our customers. We do this through our work with our customers and prospects, trying to follow, predict and create new product and market trends, and also by using our products ourselves, ensuring that everyone in the organization is minded to the product features and technology.

TNW: In November you raised $25m in a Series D Funding Round. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to find Investment for their business?

MT:

My first piece of advice is to focus on creating real value, building your customer/ user base and the right investment will come. 

Once you have users/ customers, investors, will be more likely to be comfortable taking a risk with you. 

TNW: Tech is a notoriously male dominated field. How (and how much) does this affect your working life, both on a daily and a long-term basis?

MT: All my partners have always been males, and I enjoy working with them. Kaltura has a very high ratio of females in the work force as well as in exec positions. Our CFO as well as SVP operations are both females and many other middle manager are females. Our R&D team has a very high ratio of female developers as well. Until a few years ago, when I had children, I never considered my womanhood a factor affecting my work. Over the last several years, however, I have become more aware of the needs of working mothers and have put in much effort to offer our employees flexible work schedules that allow them to accommodate their families. I balance my career and family life by working unconventional hours and taking advantage of telecommuting.

TNW: What kind of technology are you most enthustastic about and why?

MT:

I am most enthusiastic about disruptive technologies (especially in video) that change industries and social patterns, and disrupt key areas, such as learning, working, entertaining, and communicating.

We are in the middle of such an exciting technological revolution that is literally changing every facet of life: Education, communication, entertainment, healthcare, News, Commerce, Security and much more. To watch and observe the technologies that are playing a key role is fascinating.

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