OpenDrives Hires Ex-Activision Esports' André Rievers as Operations Lead

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter at @Samsonamore. Pronouns: he/him

OpenDrives Hires Ex-Activision Esports' André Rievers as Operations Lead

Digital storage company OpenDrives is planning a move into the lucrative world of esports and gaming and has hired former Activision Blizzard post production lead André Rievers to help lead the effort.

OpenDrives is a backend storage provider for some of Hollywood's biggest studios including WarnerMedia, Disney, NBCUniversal, Dreamworks, Paramount, Netflix and the Los Angeles Kings hockey team.

And it already has three hot names in gaming – Santa Monica-based Riot Games, Culver City-based esports team 100 Thieves and "Fortnite" maker Epic Games – as clients. OpenDrives raised $20 million in January.


OpenDrives' product is a physical drive enabled with software that lets production editors avoid the time consuming process of compressing and decompressing video files. That's especially valuable in increasingly collaborative workflows that require rendering and sharing large files extremely fast.

Rievers was named as vice president of operations, a role that will let him put these tools in the hands of editors producing live esports events, something he knows well.

"The pain point for us is really the storage not being able to handle the content, or not being able to provide the content fast enough, or at full resolution for the editor," Rievers explained. "It's not allowing the editor or the producer to focus on their creativity. With OpenDrives, it's like the system is not even there."

Rievers spent nearly four years at Activision as head of post-production, managing a team of editors that quickly turned around footage for live events like the company's annual BlizzCon showcase and esports matches in the Overwatch and Call of Duty Leagues. Prior to that he was a post-production manager at Univision for four and a half years, and led live production on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

While producing these events, Rievers and his team quickly noticed that where the digital files were stored – and how quickly they could be accessed and edited – greatly impacted how the overall final product would look.

"As the end user, the last thing I want to have to worry about is what storage I'm working with, (and) the thing about open drives is that it's it's the best thing I've ever seen," Rievers said.

He joked that he tried many times to push OpenDrives' network-attached software's limits as a customer, and was impressed by how well it worked under pressure.

"Every chance I had to test or to demo OpenDrives, I did my absolute best to try to break it and fight it," Rivers said. "If it wasn't me, it was one of my editors… and nobody could break it."

OpenDrives chief operations officer Sean Lee.

Rievers argued that he was interested in the OpenDrives software not just because it was fast, but because when he used it he actually almost forgot it was there, but it did the heavy lifting in the background for his team as they rapidly edited, produced and shipped dense video files.

OpenDrives chief operations officer Sean Lee said OpenDrives wants to run in the background without disrupting the workflow.

Lee spent years working at NBCUniversal production prior to joining OpenDrives.

Often he'd have a problem that'd need "to be fixed within the hour because I have a deadline to meet. If my storage isn't working, and I'm not having this good experience, I may have hundreds of VFX artists or editors just sitting around waiting for this thing to work."

Lee sees opportunity opening up as pandemic restrictions ease. The esports leagues will resume live broadcasts from around the world as they compete in real-time, meaning they might benefit from upgrading their storage.

"If storage is doing its job, you should not even know that it's there," Lee said.

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Cadence

'It's Almost Winter-Agnostic': At This Annual Gathering of Creators, Recession is on No One's Mind

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Vidcon 2022
Photo by Kristin Snyder

The creator economy is the bedrock of this week’s VidCon convention, which is drawing creators, companies, investors and fans alike to Anaheim to discuss the rapidly growing realm of digital content and entertainment.

To discuss how investors, in particular, are viewing the booming creator landscape, Thursday’s “Betting Big on the Creator Economy” panel featured the likes of MaC Venture Capital partner Zhenni Liu, Investcorp managing director Anand Radhakrishnan, Team8 Fintech managing partner Yuval Tal and Paladin co-founder and CEO James Creech.

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Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Netflix Lays Off Another 300 People
Photo by DCL "650" on Unsplash

Netflix has imposed its second round of layoffs in less than a month, cutting another 300 people from its staff.

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Santa Monica-Based Scooter Startup Veo Expands Into the City of LA

Maylin Tu
Maylin Tu is a freelance writer who lives in L.A. She writes about scooters, bikes and micro-mobility. Find her hovering by the cheese at your next local tech mixer.
Veo
Image courtesy of Veo

Three months after opening its new headquarters in Santa Monica, micromobility startup Veo is expanding its fleet and its footprint. As of last week, riders have been able to cross the municipal boundary between Santa Monica and L.A. and take trips north to Will Rogers State Beach, south to Marina Del Rey and east to Mar Vista.

“It’s good to see more people able to actually commute from Santa Monica to a nearby neighborhood…because in the past, we [did] see a lot of people stopped at the boundary,” said Veo CEO Candice Xie.

A screenshot shows Veo scooters' new availability on the west side of the city of L.A.

Still, riders will not be able to ride all through the city of L.A. The city of L.A. has only granted them permits for 500 vehicles. Xie said they’re focusing on expanding the boundaries of where their mostly Santa Monica-based users are already indicating they want to ride.

As part of the expansion, the company is adding a mixed fleet of 400 e-bikes and 100 standing scooters.

Enterprising riders who venture beyond the new, expanded geofenced zone can expect to receive a warning text message and for their vehicle to come to a slow stop. In addition, they will not be allowed to leave the e-scooter or e-bike outside of the zone without incurring a penalty that starts at $15.

Currently, it costs riders $1 to unlock and $0.33 cents per minute to ride (plus tax and fees). Residents of Santa Monica and Los Angeles who qualify can apply to ride at a reduced rate through Veo Access, where riders pay $5 per month for unlimited 30 minute rides.

Xie said that the permit approval process for the city of L.A. took longer than originally anticipated and that this new expansion will happen in phases, with the next phase anticipated in two to three months.

Veo is the seventh micromobility operator currently permitted in the city of Los Angeles, joining rivals Bird, Lime, Wheels, LINK (Superpedestrian), Lyft and Spin.

Veo’s expansion comes at a precarious time for the shared micromobility market. Earlier this month, Santa Monica-based Bird laid off 23% of its staff. Layoffs were also reported at both Superpedestrian and Voi this week.

However, Xie said that Veo is doubling down on both the greater L.A. area and California as a whole, as it recently launched in Berkeley and intends to move into Santa Clara and San Jose soon. As other companies lay off workers in pursuit of profitability, Xie said Veo is expanding.

“We're still hiring from the community and want to increase our exposure and also have more local talent join us.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that Veo vehicles were already available in Santa Clara.

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