Mike Clark is always seeking to follow his passion to build great products and the teams that make those products. Here is some background on how Mike got here.
Mike was recruited into VSCO at the beginning of 2016 for two purposes. The first, was to help build a technology practice inside of Artifact Uprising, a VSCO acquisition, serving as their interim-CTO to implement a new ecommerce platform.
The second responsibility was to build out a revenue engineering practice. At that time VSCO, revenue was driven by one-off mobile and Lightroom-plugin sales. His mission was to build a foundation for subscription services. Using the architecture and guidance laid out by Mike, VSCO's subscription service launched in early 2017. VSCO’s Membership grew to over 1 million paid subscribers in a year, making it one of the fastest growing digital subscription services of all time. And the 2-million-member mark came in less than half that amount of time.
During that time Mike took on responsibility for VSCO’s engineering, devops, and support teams. Since then, the stability of the platform increased significantly, regretted-attrition in engineering has declined, new features launch has accelerated, and consumer satisfaction went from an app store rating of 1.5 in July 2016 to 4.5 November 2018.
Mike partnered with product to drive the engineering organizational shift from classic technology teams to vertical/functional teams, which had immediate impacts on the velocity of feature delivery, quality, and ability to do experimentation. Mike worked with the COO to build out and implement a new practice for third party integrations and strategic partnerships. This work has led to strengthened relationships with both Apple and Google which have had both marketing, promotional and technology benefits. The past experience Mike had with OEM and carrier integrations has also opened up future opportunities for VSCO, with the first go to market launch with Samsung in November 2018.
Mike joined Photobucket as employee number 3 in 2005. He was instrumental in taking it from a few servers with some disks attached to technical operations with thousands of servers in multiple data centers around the country that supported many hundreds of millions of users viewing images around the world every day.
These efforts included initiating a product management practice, building out support and trust and safety teams and processes, and hiring both engineers and devops teams to sustain the hyper growth. Mike helped prototype and experiment with some of the initial features of Photobucket which helped sustain the growth; launching video as part of the Photobucket service which resulted in over 1 billion videos being uploaded to Photobucket, enhancing the Photobucket subscription service which drove significant revenue for Photobucket, and building and launching the Photobucket affiliate program which drove over 82 million registered accounts to Photobucket.
Mike was Photobucket’s first executive hire and played a key role in the acquisition and technical transition into NewsCorp/Fox Interactive Media. During that time Mike continued to drive the technology inside of Photobucket but also ran business development where he concepted, negotiated, and implemented integrations with almost every major US carrier and the top 5 hardware OEM’s for native device integration, new user acquisition, subscription bundling, and features which led to increased engagement of the complete Photobucket audience.
NewsCorp’s appetite for internet services dipped with the downturn of MySpace, Mike leveraged the partnerships which he had built to spin Photobucket out of NewsCorp to be a private entity.
After SafetyWeb sold to Experian, in 2012 Mike was recruited back to Photobucket to serve as the CTO with the mission of refreshing technical architecture and cut infrastructure costs associated with both active and inactive consumers. The combination of efforts cut the infrastructure costs associated with running Photobucket by 70% within two years and set it up to be able to run as a continuing entity despite tremendous shifts in the marketplace around both advertising revenue and usage patterns with web sharing and embedding of photos and videos.
Mike was the Co-Founder of SafetyWeb in 2009 which was a subscription-based product that helped parents figure out what their kids were doing both online and on their mobile devices. He partnered to help SafetyWeb raise seed and A rounds of financing.
Mike designed the patented technical solution ( Online Identity Management USPO 8782217 B1 ) for public account and activity discovery. He negotiated direct API and trust and safety agreements with 80 social sites as well as each of the top U.S. Mobile Carrier. Mike hired the engineering, product and design teams which implemented the complete solution.
Mike also identified and helped successfully complete the acquisition of two companies including their IP and employees ( Odojo and iHound Mobile Software ). He participated with the FCC in online and mobile safety policy guidance, received tremendous uptake in media coverage including leading articles in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and had tremendous positive impact in the lives of consumers of the SafetyWeb service. The early market success of both SafetyWeb resulted in an acquisition by Experian.
Mike has successfully helped build out and lead other teams in various organizations; devops, system and network administration for Enterprise IT (Philips Electronics and MediaOne Group); architecture, engineering, provisioning, and field operations teams in Telecommunications (TouchAmerica); and consulting, systems engineering, and hardware engineering teams for Enterprise Solutions (Citrix, NetApp, and Tigi SSD). His success in technical leadership comes from a strong technical foundation in building out systems to scale along with the teams to support those organizations.
Mike grew up on a farm in Iowa which raised cattle, sheep, corn, and soybeans. Success in farm life requires and instills a strong work ethic and an understanding that success only comes as a return on what is invested into it. This understanding is at the foundation of his strong leadership and expectations of teams to deliver great things for consumers. Mike was also on debate teams in both high school and college where he was a national finalist and won some of the biggest tournaments around the country. This sense of competition also drives Mike’s leadership style. He helps teams find motivation in delivering the best products at the highest quality they can.
One other large impact on Mike’s life was the fact that early in his career he invested so much more into tasks than taking care of himself and caused him to become obese over time. While he found success in some of his career endeavors, he also found even greater personal success at building a healthy lifestyle, losing weight and making it a part of his daily life.
One of the ways Mike found his passion for fitness was through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a grappling sport like wrestling or judo where winners of competitive matches are determined through submissions. He has progressed rapidly both as a student, competitor and instructor. Mike is currently ranked 8th in the world for his division and has won some of the biggest tournaments around the world. He is also known around the world for his tenacity, friendliness, and drive to improve the lives of everyone around him. One of Mike’s passion projects is a martial arts school in Oakland called Guardian Gym started by Ben Kovacs. Guardian was started to let any kid that walks in the door be able to train for free, get a good meal, and get tutoring help with their homework; and is all paid for through the membership of adult students at the school. Mike is a part time instructor and mentor in the program. His mission for fitness and health has even greater reach now.
Mike got hit start in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and his love of the sport from the Kompound Training Center in Colorado. The Koumpound is a Rafael Lovato Jr. affiliate school and rolls up to the Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu International Organization. Mike is a certified instructor of the Ribeiro system and program.