Platform Innovation at Fox

This has been in the works for a few weeks now, but I’m happy to announce that today was my first day as Vice President of Technology for Consumer Products and Engineering at Fox.

Roughly translated, that long-winded title means that I’m going to be a liaison between the product and engineering teams that build out the online platform powering nearly all of Fox Corporation’s properties.

When I was approached about the job a few weeks back, I felt a bit conflicted. I’ve been publicly vocal about some of my disagreements with Fox News and their editorial choices, so I honestly needed some time to think through the decision. News is a big brand for Fox, of course; but Fox is a huge organization with lots of other teams and divisions: live sports, entertainment, local affiliate channels, etc. (I’ll be working at Fox Corporation, the parent company, not on any individual brand teams.)

Before making my decision, I reached out with two important questions:

First, I wanted to understand what my specific responsibilities and goals (implicit and explicit) would be. At the end of a year, what measurements would be used to gauge my performance? I wanted to be sure I understood what value they thought I would bring to make sure I better understood what it meant to do a good job.

I did this because I wanted to make doubly sure that our expectations were in alignment, that I’d bring real value to the team, and that I’d be happy working there. I’m especially careful about this point because I’ve learned from past experience that even if you’re at a neat org doing exciting things with smart people, that doesn’t necessarily compensate for a poor role fit.

Second, I asked to meet the people on the team and talk with them about how they envisioned working with me, what their goals and ambitions were, and what day-to-day work was like for them.

I did this for a number of reasons. First, I wanted to better understand the texture and culture of the organization and get a sense of what day-to-day operations would be like. But more importantly, I wanted to understand what collaboration with each person would look like and what was important to them. 

At the end of the day, the deciding factor for me was the team, the role, and the project roadmap.

The team I’ll be working closest with is a really incredible cast of characters, many of whom (including my boss) I worked with back in 2012 when I was a director at AMC Networks. My experience at AMC was great, and having people who have experience working with you in the past looking to work with you again means a lot. (And certainly helps quell some of the imposter syndrome I’m feeling.)

I’m sure the specific responsibilities of the role will become more clear as I begin meeting team members, learning about current projects and processes, exploring existing objectives and constraints, etc., but my overarching goal is to be a resource that helps make engineers and stakeholders happier by looking for efficiencies: getting things unstuck, finding more effective ways of communicating between teams and team members, experimenting with new ways of innovating sustainably, and ultimately helping optimize the tech stack and organizational infrastructure in order to make our combined efforts more scalable.

And the engineering infrastructure at Fox is at a really interesting place. When I started my role at AMC Networks, the challenge then was convincing the individual brands (who were all running on different custom-built platforms) of the merits of a single, sustainable platform. 

At Fox, most of the brands have recently moved over to a single custom-built platform (which is pretty darn impressive), so the challenge now will be facing the next set of questions: How does the platform grow? How do you balance innovation with sustainability? How do you harmonize individual brand needs of all the other brands? How do you invite contribution while still prioritizing stability?

Lots of interesting questions, and I’m really excited to be part of the team trying to figure out the answer to these questions.