‘Crazy people’ at iflix the lure for new group COO Azran
By Karamjit Singh April 17, 2015
- Experience shows him that high-energy teams perform
- Challenge is to make new service easy to use and accessible
MOST people would walk away, as quickly as possible, from a role that could be described as “a big challenge,” “a mission impossible,” or “the craziest thing” – but then, Azran Osman-Rani (pic, above), the former chief executive officer of AirAsia X, is not most people.
Check out his website, azranosmanrani.com, where he starts off by describing himself as someone who has built and continues to build “attacker businesses.”
In turning away various roles that were offered to him since he left AirAsia X in January – “corporate Malaysia is too boring” he declares – and by picking video-on-demand (VOD) service iflix as his next ‘attacker business,’ Azran is certainly taking on a massive challenge.
He has been appointed chief executive officer (CEO) of iflix Malaysia, and chief operating officer of the iflix Group, as Digital News Asia (DNA) reported yesterday (April 16).
For while various surveys show that consumers in South-East Asia are increasingly subscribing to broadband and depending on their smartphones for connectivity, the reality also is that disposable incomes in the region are not that strong yet.
But being a disruptor, as Azran also likes to describe himself, is not about worrying about how a market is today. It is about where it will be tomorrow.
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And in that sense, Azran shares iflix founder Patrick Grove’s excitement that the future of content consumption in South-East Asia will be dominated by video – as long as it can be made affordable.
“We have our work cut out to build a product that is really easy to use and that consumers will love,” says Azran, who has no doubt that such a product is what consumers will demand, and points to his own seven-year-old as proof of this.
“My 15-year-old understands linear TV and that he can watch certain programmes at certain fixed times, but my seven-year-old does not watch TV and cannot understand why he needs to wait to watch any show,” he tells DNA.
According to Azran, junior watches YouTube and cherry-picks any show that he wants to watch there and then. “I think it is going to be way most people consume media. So, on our part, we have got to make it easy to use and accessible.”
Getting the product right is just one of many challenges, acknowledges Azran. There are other risks.
“We are betting big on content and it is a fast-moving space. What is popular today could be out of favour tomorrow. We really need a pulse on consumers,” he says, adding that the space iflix is in is not that difficult to enter.
“Big media players with the resources could come into the market,” he says.
Yet Azran also echoes something Grove always says … “but history shows that incumbents don’t move as fast.”
While the market opportunity to be disruptive is there, this is actually not what ultimately got Azran to join Grove (pic) in his quest to disrupt the video market.
“One thing I have learnt in my career is that it is not about the company or product. It really is about the people you will be working with.
“And, I am very, very fussy in wanting to work with people who are smart and I can learn a lot from – and yet are fun to hang out with and are on the same wavelength,” he says.
He believes he has found such a group at iflix.
“All the crazy guys are here, and that is what makes this fun,” he says, pointing to the chief technology officer at iflix who is a former world champion in speed skydiving, while his head of engineering is a Malaysian who loves to basejump and has worked in Silicon Valley before.
It is a high-energy team that will be led by the high-energy Azran, who is an active athlete and is currently gearing up for his Mt. Everest base camp expedition at the end of April, before he officially takes over on June 1.
Former AirAsia X CEO Azran joins Patrick Grove’s iflix
Patrick Grove’s South-East Asian gamble on VOD
Singtel, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros to roll out Netflix-type service
Media habits: Enter the binge-watching Malaysians
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