Mixpo faces challenge of a project restart under lower morale

2009 InfoWorld CTO 25 Awards: Brian Cohee

2009 InfoWorld CTO 25 Awards

Brian Cohee


In March 2007, Mixpo found itself with a team of young developers and a video ad-serving product in need of a complete restart because of a change in management's market focus. Several well-regarded senior development leads had recently left the company. As you might expect, developer morale was low.

Brian Cohee tapped into the developers' confidence in their own technical skills in C++, Java, Flex, and Ruby on Rails development languages, as well as in their peers' abilities and work ethic. Tapping into this confidence, Cohee and the developers built in nine months an entirely new product platform and infrastructure, including a new player with enhanced features, flexible publishing and syndication options, strong analytics capability critical to delivering deep performance metrics, and innovative optimization capabilities that enable advertisers to make changes on the fly.

[ Discover how the lessons learned from the 2009 InfoWorld CTO 25 Award winners can help your IT efforts. ]

But during that redo period, Cohee had to keep the previous, alpha-version product visible and running so that Mixpo could sign up beta customers at a time competitors were starting to emerge. "Without the alpha, we would have gone silent," he recalls. "The ability to maintain awareness in the market was the catalyst for building early traction and signing up those important first customers." So Cohee had to also advance the product that his team knew had no future. It helped to use that alpha both to get customers on board and as a customer test bed, feeding back insight to the developers working on the replacement product.