<![CDATA[Kapwing Company Blog]]>https://www.kapwing.com/blog/https://www.kapwing.com/blog/favicon.pngKapwing Company Bloghttps://www.kapwing.com/blog/Ghost 5.24Sat, 25 Nov 2023 08:51:38 GMT60<![CDATA[Is Sam Altman running for President in 2024?]]>The short answer is no, Sam Altman is not running for president. But folks searching on Google might be confused as to why the description for his X (formerly Twitter) account seems to suggest that he is:

There's a lot of news about Sam Altman right now, given

https://www.kapwing.com/blog/is-sam-altman-running-for-president/6557ecb359ad4d464f13066cFri, 17 Nov 2023 22:55:31 GMT

The short answer is no, Sam Altman is not running for president. But folks searching on Google might be confused as to why the description for his X (formerly Twitter) account seems to suggest that he is:

Is Sam Altman running for President in 2024?

There's a lot of news about Sam Altman right now, given the announcements around his departure from Open AI. But one snippet stands out if you search for it on Google - the description that accompanies his X account. It current says the following snippet:

I am running for President as a Democrat in 2024. My campaign will be about four main things. First and foremost, it will be about the economy. We have to make ...

At first glance, the snippet seems to suggest that Sam Altman is announcing his campaign on the same day as the news about his departure. But in reality, this is a bad job by the Google bot, not something that Sam Altman himself tweeted. What appears to be happening is that Google is picking up a quote from Congressman Dean Phillips, which is a tweet that Altman himself quoted in a response:

Is Sam Altman running for President in 2024?
Sam Altman's quote tweet on Dean Phillips' campaign announcement

Because Altman quote tweeted this original tweet, Google seems to associate the Tweet with Altman's main page, hence the original snippet. The original tweet from Congressman Dean Phillips can be found here.

Google's systems rely on automatically selecting featured descriptions and snippets, which is ultimately the source of the error here. That said, I think this news can be shocking to folks who aren't paying close attention, and it's up to Google to decide how to improve their systems.

We at Kapwing, an online video editor, are huge fans (and customers) of OpenAI, and like many others in the tech community, were shocked when the news of Altman's departure came out. We were doubly shocked to see a snippet of him announcing a campaign, and wanted to share our investigation to help others stay informed. We hope this helps clear things up - Altman isn't running for President right now - he just replied to Phillips' announcement.

<![CDATA[Slack's Google Drive App can share your private Docs and Drive files]]>In 2017, Slack launched a popular Google Drive integration that makes it easy to embed, share, and get notified about new items added to Google Drive, including files, images, docs, and more. We use it daily here at Kapwing, an online video editing startup, since we run internally on top

https://www.kapwing.com/blog/slacks-google-drive-integration-shares-private-documents/65278e5a59ad4d464f1305eeThu, 12 Oct 2023 06:41:16 GMT

In 2017, Slack launched a popular Google Drive integration that makes it easy to embed, share, and get notified about new items added to Google Drive, including files, images, docs, and more. We use it daily here at Kapwing, an online video editing startup, since we run internally on top of Google Docs and Google Drive. Recently, however, I discovered that using file previews with the Google Drive Slack App will allow it to share completely private, unshared documents and files within your workspace.

Slack's Google Drive App can share your private Docs and Drive files
The popular Google Drive Slack Bot

The Slack Google Drive integration has a feature called File Previews that is enabled by default. This is usually pretty handy, because when you share a link to a Google Doc, or any file in Google Drive, the bot will automatically show a preview of the document.

Slack's Google Drive App can share your private Docs and Drive files
The Slack Bot preview for Google Documents

However, recently I noticed that it was doing this for documents that I had not yet shared. I also noticed that when certain links were sent to me, I would see a preview of the document even though I didn't have access to it yet.

Slack's Google Drive App can share your private Docs and Drive files
Me, sharing a private document with Luke which shows the full content of the document

If I open up the URL of the file preview, the preview is a full resolution 800 × 1035 image that shows the entire first page of the document.

The app does this for private images uploaded to Google Drive as well:

Slack's Google Drive App can share your private Docs and Drive files
Me, sharing a private image to a coworker that he is not supposed to see.

It seems like what's happening here is that when I share a document or file via a link, the Google Drive Slack app will automatically create a preview image of that file, using my own Google permissions. The problem is, that preview image gets re-uploaded to Slack's CDN, and is in high resolution and is now accessible to everyone in my Slack workspace.

You can test this yourself by creating a private Google document, or uploading an image accessible only to you to your Google Drive, and then sending the link to a colleague in Slack. If you use the web Slack client, you'll be able to inspect the full link to the image preview as well:

Slack's Google Drive App can share your private Docs and Drive files
The full image preview that gets sent to my collegue

It might not be the biggest deal to some people, but I think it can definitely be a problem if you are not being careful with sharing private Google documents in a public slack channel or workspace, especially since File Previews are enabled by default. Going forward, I think it would be better for the app to make this clear, since it can definitely be used by folks in Slack to see something they weren't allowed to.

I hope this helps others out there using the Google Drive Slack app!

<![CDATA[How Will GPT Change Video Editing]]>https://www.kapwing.com/blog/how-will-gpt-change-video-editing/6436d6ad59ad4d464f1304a4Wed, 12 Apr 2023 17:22:37 GMT

Silicon Valley hasn’t been so active in years! We find ourselves in the center of a new hype cycle around Generative AI. In the last few weeks, we have changed our whole process to sprint on new GPT-powered features, and it’s been a long time when I’ve felt so energized about our product roadmap.

In case you don't want to read this article, Kapwing used AI to generate a summary video for you:

Video edited on Kapwing

We’ve known since 2018 that AI would changed the way we do work. Last year, in 2022, we added 8 new ML-powered APIs into our video editing platform to automate tedious editing tasks. Creative teams love these features, and they represent our most popular and highly-retentive features on the website.

Today, we’re introducing a set of 5 Generative AI features powered by GPT-4. Hundreds of people are using them already. Make videos from just a topic description, generate images, get meme ideas, transform documents into summary videos, and create a social media video script. Try them for free on Kapwing.

How Will GPT Change Video Editing

This is just the beginning. There’s so much more to come with the help of OpenAI’s LLM. In this article, I’ll share my perspective on how GPT and Generative AI change the game for creators and how we envision this taking shape at Kapwing.

AI for Video Editing

GPT-4 unlocks a new horizon for AI applications. I envision that it will change video editing in these key ways:

1) Creative Brainstorming. AI helps to address the blank canvas, giving you a starting place to iterate from and new perspectives to consider. It will:

  • Suggest new ideas and combinations for edit (fonts, sounds, face filters, effects, and more). Get inspired if you get stuck and experiment with new layouts, animations, and cuts.
  • Help find stock media and generate original assets to incorporate into projects. You say "Barack Obama", and there's already a PNG overlay of his face available for you. You can browse songs with the right tempo and duration for your project. Sound effect suggestions immediately appear over jump cuts.
  • Supply caption ideas for your social media posts, including memes, and thumbnails to cover them
  • Curate trends and new formats you might enjoy
  • Clip highlights in a long-form video
  • Convert from one medium to another. AI can generate a visual to accompany your podcast, or a voiceover representation for a text article. File types become more versatile and transformable.
How Will GPT Change Video Editing

2)  Personalized automations: Less repetitive work as AI remembers your actions, assists, and automates. AI will:

  • Detect bounding boxes so you can edit each subject within a video and pull a video apart into its layers, retroactivley
  • Recognize objects to find timestamps from text prompts, recognizing both the timeline (searching for keywords in a webinar, for example) and the canvas (like tracking a person's face)
  • Auto-level the volume across your video and clean it up by removing background noise
How Will GPT Change Video Editing
  • Remember your preferences, like your default output size or your intro sequence, and suggesting them in new projects
  • Power recording tools like a smart teleprompter that moves forward as you speak and a computational camera that beautifies the speaker's face and enhances their voice as it captures
  • Translate between languages with dubbed voiceovers and/or closed captions in other languages

3) Command interfaces that transform text prompts into precise timeline UI. AI will:

  • Use quotations and scene changes to make cuts and clips, editing like a Google Doc ++.
  • Converse with you to reverse mistakes, catch errors, and refine changes, just like you would a virtual assistant
  • Chain sequences of actions together (like "make this text appear for one second every three seconds" or "optimize for TikTok")
  • Generate scripts, shot lists, and storyboards from text descriptions

What Doesn’t Change

Storytelling and authorship: Humans love videos partly because it gives us a connection to another relatable person, making us feel less alone and closer to mankind. Outside of Westworld, we don’t have the same connection with machines; computers are too forgetful, infinite, objective, and perfectly reasonable for us to relate to and feel understood by. When I browse on TikTok, authentic storytelling represents most of the stories in my feed. It’s my belief that humans will tell stories better than machines for a long time, because it’s the human aspect that we relate to. So, Generative AI won’t replace TikTokers, musicians, poets, influencers, and performers, although it will certainly make them faster and help them to come up with new content ideas. Coming up with relatable stories, filming experiences, and crafting a narrative will still be the bulk of a creator’s work.

How Will GPT Change Video Editing
"TikTokers making videos in their home studio, photorealistic" generated images

Originality: Similarly, AI won’t change the fact that people will want to insert their own personality and voice into videos they produce. Generative AI is good at coming up with average answers, but not good at coming up with a highly original spin on a topic. It can give you suggestions for memes, but creators will still want to put their own spin on it. That’s why it’s essential for AI to be baked into the tools themselves, so that all AI suggestions can be modified and curated.

How Will GPT Change Video Editing

The Art of Filmmaking: There are many ways to cut and tell a story, and AI certainly does not get us 100% of the way there. Video editors, digital storytellers, and media entrepreneurs need suggestive AI tools that can supplement their workflow with recommendations rather than prescriptive software that tries to replace their jobs. Prescriptive AI is doomed to fail. Instead, video makers need the ability to customize, change, remix, and refine AI suggestions to bring a creative vision to life.

What Does Change

Investment in ML performance: We know from experience that fast, accurate AI workflows are essential for saving creators time. Video makers rely on responsive, fast interfaces in the creative process and will give up on slow, clunky processes. For example, last year, we improved the performance of our automatic remove background from video feature and saw a 6% uptick in weekly active users immediately after launch. We are increasing our investment in performance and will continue to rigorously compare available AI technologies on real videos/use cases.

How Will GPT Change Video Editing

Text as an input: The popularity of ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot has changed the way consumers think about chat interfaces and productivity. Video editing is visual, but some commands demand a lot of precision and accuracy that’s hard to achieve with a mouse or trackpad. Video editing software of the future will leverage embedded text prompts to automate repeated workflows and guide users and text input to inspire and spark new ideas. Clippy reborn!

AI Development Velocity: Silicon Valley is seeing an unprecedented velocity around new AI products, and video-related AI is evolving quickly. But there’s still a lot that machines can’t do well. For example, machines have a lot to learn when it comes to drawing a bounding box around objects. Lacking a sense of object permanent, computer vision fails when a moving subject disappears momentarily, for example. As a result, we haven’t yet found an object tracking API that provides reliable enough results for an automated “pinning” solution. Our engineering team stays plugged in to recent developments through a close relationship with the Chrome team, and we’re thrilled at the AI developments that have moved into hyper speed in the last few months.

Today, we launched 5 products that we started development on less than two weeks ago. There’s much more to come. Stay tuned at kapwing.com/ai and sign up for email updates.

How Will GPT Change Video Editing


Creators and technologists alike are dreaming about how AI will change video editing workflows for the better and help creators get more efficient when telling stories and making content. We’ve had hundreds of people fill out our interest survey, telling us they’re interested in every area of video creation:

How Will GPT Change Video Editing

We’re using this survey and feedback, ideas, and requests from creators to guide our roadmap, so please reach out over email, LinkedIn or Twitter to let us know your thoughts. Stay tuned as we add new AI products into the Kapwing editor and chip away at the repetitive workflows that have haunted creators for decades.

If you’re a marketing, communications, or media team interested in leveraging AI to speed up content operations, reach out for a demo to see how you can put AI to work for your creative team.

<![CDATA[Tech Entrepreneurship and Shifting Sentiment]]>When I started Kapwing in 2017, it was cool to be a tech entrepreneur. People looked up to techies. How I Built This was one of Apple’s top podcasts. Stripe, then a tech industry darling, acquired IndieHacker, a popular website about resourceful entrepreneurship. In 2018, famous startup accelerator

https://www.kapwing.com/blog/why-does-the-public-hate-the-tech-industry-now/6412293f59ad4d464f13042bThu, 16 Mar 2023 00:57:15 GMT

When I started Kapwing in 2017, it was cool to be a tech entrepreneur. People looked up to techies. How I Built This was one of Apple’s top podcasts. Stripe, then a tech industry darling, acquired IndieHacker, a popular website about resourceful entrepreneurship. In 2018, famous startup accelerator YCombinator allegedly got more than 10,000 applications.

Last weekend’s commentary on the SVB crisis showed us that is no longer true. On Twitter, peoeple seemed to ridicule the impacted tech startups. People thought depositors should lose their money because they made the “irresponsible” decision to bank with a large, stable, well-known public institution.

This confirmed a sentiment I’ve noticed in my personal life. In the last couple of years, I've felt embarrassed in some circles to tell people I’m a software founder/CEO, even though I’m extremely proud of Kapwing and the impact it’s had in the world.

Why Do People Hate the Tech Industry Now?

IMO, people increasingly see the tech industry as a group of fraudsters rather than well-intentioned innovators. Here’s some reasons why I think sentiment has changed towards tech:

  • Startup fraud genre. Consumers delighted in the startup disaster stories retold in Inventing Anna, WeCrashed, Super Pumped, etc. The media frenzied around Elizabeth Holmes’ trial and sentencing.
  • The crazy rise and fall of crypto. Past technology waves – mobile in the late 2000s, social in the early 2010s, and cloud in the mid-2010s – brought time and money savings to the average consumer and office worker. In contrast, crypto didn’t, or at least hasn't yet. A lot of money and hype was poured into a technology that promised improvements down the road, but never bear fruit. The FTX explosion was a fitting capstone.
  • Some of tech’s heros have fallen. Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates’s marriages fell apart. Elon Musk did some weird stuff and got into the Twitter debacle. Even beloved founders like Jack Conte and Patrick Collison got some bad press.
  • VCs funding unsustainable business models. Billions of dollars have poured into zero-revenue companies. In this last year, this came to a head as widespread layoffs rocked the industry. I think that people resent the founders who make enormous promises and, with venture funding, pay themselves a lot from day 1, then end up having to lay everyone off when reality can’t match the vision. These days, it’s rare for founders to boostrap and hustle to get by with less like Eric and I did in the early days.
  • The pandemic and dispersion of tech talent. SF used to be a mecca of tech talent: events, dinners, summits, etc that brought optimistic entrepreneurs together. As things have moved towards hybrid and virtual, tech events have become less personal, with less human connections and the authenticity, vulnerability, and friendship that come with it. The lack of in-person community made the tech industry more transactional and less inspiring than it was pre-pandemic.
Tech Entrepreneurship and Shifting Sentiment
KP Women Leaders, one IRL event that has not restarted since the pandemic

I love technology and startups. Founding a company has been the greatest experience of my career and one of the best of my life. Yet even I have found myself resenting the tech industry as a competitor of ours with very little revenue raised more money than us on hype alone. I cringed when a16z, a storied VC firm, put hundreds of millions into Adam Neumann’s nascent idea.

Silicon Valley needs a cultural shift. VCs contribute to this negative cycle when they value hype over business value, vision over track record, and growth rate over sustainable business models. Founders contribute when they hide their doubts and failures, hire too quickly, and flaunt their success too early. Everyone needs to shine more light on solving real user problems.

This is an existential problem for the tech industry, as negative public perception will lead to more regulation, less public support, and (over time) less talent.

Thanks for reading! I'm extremely grateful that we've gotten access all of our SVB deposits, and we've now opened up multiple other bank accounts to house our incoming revenue and balance. This allowed us to run payroll and continue to launch new products for creators without disruption.

Tech Entrepreneurship and Shifting Sentiment
<![CDATA[How to Build a Founder Network]]>https://www.kapwing.com/blog/finding-a-founder-tribe/63e6d7cb59ad4d464f130373Sat, 11 Feb 2023 00:24:25 GMT

Recently, a friend and former coworker of mine left Google to start his own company. He’s in the stage that I fondly call “the abyss”: the lonely early days of a new venture where you’re trying to find an idea with some traction and searching for direction.

How to Build a Founder Network

It’s the second message I’ve gotten in a month on this same topic. Another entrepreneur in Dallas (my hometown) messaged me for advice on joining founder communities:

How to Build a Founder Network

I’m the cofounder / CEO of a startup based in SF called Kapwing. When my cofounder and I were in the abyss back in 2017, we leaned on a network of entrepreneurs to get through the uncertainty, support us emotionally, and give us tactical advice. Other founders counseled me on fundraising, encouraged us not to give up when we were down, and celebrated small wins with us.

Now, that we’ve raised more than $12M for Kapwing and grown our team to 36 people, we continue to expand on our community for insight and meaningful connection. It turns out that “the messy middle” is lonely also, and my founder tribe continues to be an essential support system for me in my work. I got advice from other entrepreneurs about firing our first employees, writing investor updates, managing offshore engineers, running paid ads, managing corp dev conversations, and many other decisions.

How to Build a Founder Network
Speaking at a recent

In this article, I wanted to publish my tips on how other entrepreneurs can find community. Of course, I’m lucky to live in San Francisco, had a Stanford and Google-based network to start off with, and benefited from other advantages that made it easier to connect with others. But I also invested a lot of time into building connections, and I believe that a founder can invest in building a network no matter who they are or where they live.

#1) Coworking Spaces

Our first founder communities came from the places we worked out of. In the early days, while we were exploring ideas, a friend of ours kindly allowed us to work out of spare desks in his office space. With a coffee machine, clean desks, and hard-working finance professionals nearby, our first work space upleveled the professionalism of our work and lent structure to our days. We befriended some of the associates at the firm and got early feedback on our business  from smart outsiders.

How to Build a Founder Network

After we used up the hospitality of our friend (they asked us to start paying them rent, so we realized we’d overstayed our welcome), we moved to a startup coworking space out of Samsung, a program called SamsungNEXT.  SamsungNEXT’s incubator was equity free with amazing perks. We met several great founding teams there -- Deon and Sami at Forethought, Sam at Fireflies.AI, Zack and Varun at Tetrate, Ian and Karl at Tonic.ai -- who became our good friends. It was the ideal place to work from while we were closing our seed round and recruiting our first employees.

How to Build a Founder Network

After we raised money, we decided to lease a pod of desks in a startup space called Founders Den rather than getting our own building or walled-off office. Run by four serial founders including Jonathan Abrams of Friendster, the Founders Den prided itself as an early home for hot startups and leased desks at-price. Through the Founders Den events and natural serendipity, we met the neighboring startups and great founders including Michael Ellison of CodePath and Kurt Spindler of Debtsy.

Takeaway: When you’re getting started, the easiest and cheapest thing to do is work out of your bedroom. But having a professional coworking space gives you more opportunities to meet people and get feedback + advice. Consider asking a friend for spare office space or renting out shared space for more serendipitous connection and community.

#2) Investors

Even when you’re bootstrapping, getting to know local investors can help you get access to the startup ecosystem in your town. For us, many investors who turned us down still included us when hosting events for early-stage startups, which helped us connect with other founders. For example, First Round Capital hosted this awesome DRF Female Founders event that I got to attend. M13 and Index included me in small, intimate dinner parties, even after they turned us down. I loved these events and made good connections.

How to Build a Founder Network

So how do you meet investors? When Eric and I started out, we had the same question ourselves. We sat down and made a list of every person we knew who might know a venture capitalist, including distant family friends, old fraternity brothers, a former professor, and Twitter acquaintances. Then, we reached out to every person on the list with a casual invite to coffee. This led to dozens of warm welcomes to VCs, people that would eventually become our investors and advisors. Of course, there is a ton of luck and privilege in this strategy, but there’s also courage and hard work that goes into putting yourself out there.

Meeting investors helped us build out our founder community. Some angel syndicates host regular events for investors to meet early-stage startup founders. We went to events hosted by the Xoogler community and some AngelList investors, some of which eventually led to checks from angel investors. We met some of our best founder friends - like Ben and Carlos at DownDog - at pitch events.

How to Build a Founder Network

Now that we raised money, some of our investors have contributed a lot to my founder tribe. Kapwing’s investors have introduced us to other founders, included us in founder-centered events, and nurtured online forums for their portfolio. Village Global does an excellent job of this, hosting dinners, speaker series, and an annual retreat designed to help their network connect to each other. I’ve met many brilliant people - Andy Coravos at HumanFirst, Vance Roush at Overflow, and Blaine Hatab at Distru - who have been good friends to me and sparked great ideas for Kapwing. Kleiner Perkins and CRV, the major firms who led our financing rounds, also hosted great events pre-pandemic. Now, in 2022, some of these in-person events have resumed.

How to Build a Founder Network
A recent Village Global retreat

#3) Accelerators

YCombinator is the most selective accelerator and immediately connects you to hundreds of other founders in the same stage as you. 500 Startups and TechStars also have solid peer groups for founders, although they’re less impressive given that those accelerators are less selective compared to YC.

Eric and I didn’t want to give away equity early on, so we did StartX, a zero-equity accelerator for Stanford-affiliated founders, instead. We met several talented entrepreneurs in our StartX class who were farther along than us, including Cliff Weitzman of Speechify and Brice Gumpel of Seated.

How to Build a Founder Network
Presenting at StartX Demo Day

You can also find accelerator groups based on your identity. There are support groups to connect with other female, BIPOC, LGBTQ, and first-generation founders with each other, often started by a passionate community leader that serves as a mentor and role model. My cofounder, Eric Lu, is a first-generation entrepreneur and spoke at an event for Chinese immigrant founders

How to Build a Founder Network

If you’ve worked for a  FAANG company, there are often communities of former employees who left to chart their own path. I’ve been to several women-in-tech events, and the Xoogler community has been a foundation for Eric and I since we started out. During the pandemic, Google for Startups hosted a program to accelerate female founders that Kapwing joined.

How to Build a Founder Network
Google for Startups – Women Founders cohort

#4) Digital Communities

When we started Kapwing, we connected with other people in the IndieHacker community and wrote stories for Hackernoon. Some of our blog posts did well on HackerNews, and we launched several products on Product Hunt. Occasionally, you can find founder communities through software products that serve founders, like Brex and Stripe. We got involved with the perks organized by Stripe Atlas, went to events by Silicon Valley Bank and AWS, spoke on and attended founder panels, and joined the DemandCurve and Femstreet Slack channel. During the pandemic, these virtual communities became important sources of support.

How to Build a Founder Network
Speaking on entreprneurship panels can help you build a brand and expand your network

Takeaway: To find good digital communities, keep your eye out for startup newsletters, podcasts, and media outlets that you find useful. Many of them are connected to some online community for entrepreneurs.

#5) DIY Communities

The best way to join a community is to build one yourself! Bring founders that you meet together for socializing and startup chatter. I’ve hosted a female engineers dinner party at our office which was as simple as ordering a party platter.

How to Build a Founder Network
A weekend trip is an amazing opportunity to reinforce founder friendships and provides a retreat for all

I’m inspired by the people in the startup ecosystem who have a knack for bringing people together organically. Erik Torenberg is the start role model in this vein; in 2019, he hosted a social “unconference,” a weekend retreat for 40 people in Tahoe to mix and learn, for a social community called Rise and started OnDeck, now worth hundreds of millions of dollars, as a causal happy hour for people in his network. My role models know how to host a great event and make connections between people, a skill that creates community around them.

How to Build a Founder Network
Our Series A celebration party, and a chance to reinforce our founder community

Takeaway: Most entrepreneurs feel lonely; you’re not the only one. The best way to nurture relationships and to give back is to host events, make introductions, keep conversations going with no agenda, do favors, and keep meeting new people. This generosity will create organic connections and pay off many times over.

#6) Books and Blogs

Reading about another entrepreneur’s journey isn’t the same as befriending someone and talking to them live, but it does help you feel less isolated. Since starting Kapwing, I’ve read The Hard Thing About Hard Things, The Messy Middle, Shoe Dog, Let My People Go Surfing, Creativity Inc, and a bunch of other tactical startup books. We also follow HackerNews and some other indie-founder blogs, like  Canny and Letterdrop. In some cases, we’ve met the authors of our favorite newsletters and startup blogs through Twitter and article comments. I'd encourage you to subscribe to this blog too and reach out to me over email if you want to connect and talk further.

How to Build a Founder Network
some startup reading from 2018

Takeaway: Keep reading and learning! Browsing startup learnings and sharing your own blog posts helps you stay in touch with other entrepreneurs.

#7) Formal Communities

At various points of the company, I've considered joining more formal communities that bring founders together. Forbes 30 Under 30, for example, does an annual gathering, and YPO (Young Presidents Organization) has chapters across the country. Often, these exclusive groups have membership requirements, and new members must get a referral from an insider.

I resisted these groups for a long time because of the steep membership fees that come along with joining. However, earlier this year, I joined a growth program called Leaders in Tech that I've enjoyed as a both an intentional learning opportunity and a way to network with other founders. This program has both pros and cons (will save this for another blog post) and was quite expensive, but it's an option if you don't have organic networking opportunities to connect with and are flush with cash.

Conferences can also provide a vehicle for meeting people. I attended a few in the early days of Kapwing - Startup Grind (all entrepreneurs), Visual1st (an industry conference), and Social Media Marketing World. Overall, I felt that conferences are a good experience if you can get a free ticket, but not worth a steep attendance price tag in addition to the time.

How to Build a Founder Network
Speaking at VisualFirst in 2018

Takeaway: Companies will provide community when there is a demand. Consider founder clubs or membership groups for a more formal network.


If you're an early-stage founder, surrounding yourself with other sharp entrepreneurs is a tremendous competitive advantage. You can better see around corners, close deals, recruit candidates, and stay afloat through the emotional rollarcoaster of startups. I hope this article inspires others on how to spend time building a community of founders and spread the love.

<![CDATA[Predictions for Creative Teams in 2023]]>https://www.kapwing.com/blog/predictions-for-creative-teams-in-2023/63acccb959ad4d464f1300a3Wed, 04 Jan 2023 01:42:24 GMT

The 2023 “Consumer Tech Dealmaking” report by Silversmith shows that the Video Content Creation market is growing, but businesses still experience major pain points. When asked what their top complaints are with existing software, businesses said:

Predictions for Creative Teams in 2023

The results cited above don't surprise me as I've used the incumbent video editors – like Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro – myself, and they're much more heavyweight than the cloud-first software I'm used to. 5 years ago, in 2018, my cofounder and I experienced these pain points, and the frustration over speed and cost inspired us to build Kapwing, a cloud-based video content studio for modern creative teams.

Now, Kapwing has 36 employees, millions of users, and thousands of professional teams who use our product regularly. I'm the cofounder and CEO. To better understand and serve our customers, we interview marketing and media teams regularly about their pain points, wins, and predictions for the future. We also have an in-house creative team writing articles and making content for our blog, social media, and YouTube channel.

In this article, I wanted to share my predictions for how 2023 will shape Creative Team workflows from my perspective as a business owner, SEO and content marketing enthusiast, and founder focused on empowering creative teams. This article is written for marketing and communications leaders trying to uplevel their team for the new year.

1) Artificial Intelligence

AI-Generated Art: In the second half of 2022, AI-generated art projects enamored the tech and creative industry; images from Lensa AI, Stable Diffusion, DALL-E 2, and other AI models took off on social media. Despite a slow venture cycle, VC deal value for Generative AI companies reached $900M across 63 deals.

Predictions for Creative Teams in 2023

In 2023, we expect to see more businesses using AI-generated art to supplement creative workflows. Professionals in video game design, greeting cards and stock photography, journalism, and marketing will benefit from platforms that allow them to generate original art on the fly.

The AI-generated images will become more useable as platforms refine their models and companies find commercial use cases. New jobs will open for professional art generators (”AI-powered artists”), those who know the technology tools well enough to produce custom art with the right styles and feature. Coaches and influencers will teach others how to create art using generators.

ML-Powered Workflows and Automation: Video editing is still surprisingly tedious. Professional producers and editors spend dozens of hours each week cutting out silences, leveling volume, finding shareable clips, resizing for different aspect ratios, blurring out objects, and captioning videos. However, over the last few years, online creative apps have made AI-powered tools more available, saving time and stress for creative teams. A 2022 report by McKensie found that companies were investing in AI adoption for marketing and sales faster than any other businesss unit.

In 2023, this trend will ramp up, and creative software will increasingly leverage machine learning models to suggest helpful edits, visuals, and styles; automate repetitive tasks; and fill in the gaps.  At Kapwing, our AI-powered tools like Clean Audio and Smart Cut are among our most popular, and we have more personalized smart experiences for content creators planned in the new year. Our goal is to make Kapwing the leading Smart Video Editor to save creative teams time and money through automation and ML-powered tools.

Predictions for Creative Teams in 2023
Some of the AI-powered tools that we've added to Kapwing

Affordable Video APIs: In 2023, we expect video transcription, computer vision, translation, object tracking, and other APIs to become much cheaper and more accessible. Already, new transcription APIs like Whisper by OpenAI and AssemblyAI are much more accurate and performant than Google’s voice recognition API, and these are just two options in a crowded market.

Meanwhile, Google Search has launched transcription search within videos and editing platforms like Descript and Kapwing have incorporated transcription into editing such that creators do not need to spend hours tediously looking for dialogue clips in their long-form recordings. Journalism, research, sales operations, and education will likely adopt new video editing products and get a productivity boost as new applications incorporate transcription.

2) Cloud & Collaboration

Hybrid work: 2022 proved that hybrid work is here to stay even though the covid-19 pandemic is mostly behind us. In a recent survey, 69% of CEOs said that their company will have some some form of hybrid work going forward. Since moving to “work from home,” office workers have come to expect cloud backups, real-time collaboration, version control, integrations, and fine-grained permissions in their productivity software.

Predictions for Creative Teams in 2023

Hybrid work both expands the need for video content and makes it more crucial that video production happens collaboratively in the cloud.  50% of enterprises report that they plan to produce higher quality and more engaging videos to replace certain meetings meaning hybrid work also expands the demand for video content Yet offline desktop software isn’t hybrid-friendly; it's less secure, less compatible across devices, slower and less collaborative for asynchronous teams across timezones.

So, we predict that the cloud is coming for music and video production in 2023. Creative teams will look for video editing solutions that allow everyone to have access to the most recent version of a project from any device, leave in-context comments, and share work in a collaborative digital space. Online video editors will make it easier to share via a URL and work together asynchronously, both requirements for a modern workforce. Startups like Kapwing will take market share from incumbent video editors like Adobe Rush, Sony Vegas, and Final Cut Pro.

Investment in the web and browser: Cloud software has been a trend over the last decade. Word processing, note taking, presentations, spreadsheets, databases, communication, project management, brainstorming, and design have largely moved to browser-based programs like Notion, Google Docs, Airtable, Slack, Asana, Miro, and Figma. In 2022, Adobe acquired Figma and Frame.IO, companies focused on enabling cloud-based creative work, for more than a billion dollars each. These huge acquisitions plus the launch of Adobe Creative Cloud Express and Canva's Design Suite show the creative industry's investment in the web and real-time collaboration.

In 2023, creative teams will come to prefer software they can access in the browser over software that must be installed onto a hard-drive. Old-school software programs like Premiere and iMovie eat memory, heat up your CPU, and slow down other applications. In contrast, websites can offload all compute to cloud processors.

Predictions for Creative Teams in 2023
A complex video project in the browser is always backed up and accessible on any device

Tech advancements in Chrome, client-side FFMPEG, and web assembly enable developers to more easily support video layers for browser-based video editing. Both of these trends will lead to creative teams adopting powerful online video editing platforms that enable secure storage, collaboration, and editing in one space.

3) Proliferation of Video

Vertical First: In 2022, TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Snapchat, and Instagram Reels all grew in popularity. More companies have leaned in to the vertical video platforms, launching brand content and communications in 9:16. People are consuming more information through vertical video than ever across all platforms, and we don't think that trends is slowing down in 2023.

Predictions for Creative Teams in 2023

We predict that creative teams will move to a paradigm of vertical-first, making portrait video assets the premiere content type. Consumers should expect to see more videos on YouTube that are repurposed vertical videos rather than the other way around.

Organic growth: In 2020-2022, the influx of venture capital into tech and startups. However, given the recent shift in the stock market and macro-economic trends, more tech companies and startups have shifted investments away from paid and towards organic growth. November ‘22 saw the first dip in advertisment spending since 2020 (source).

In 2023, we expect more companies to move investment from paid advertising to organic growth and partnerships. The result will be a rise content creation: articles, white papers, videos, and graphics. Other issues like DEI may be getting less attention with the macroeconomic shifts.

New platforms: BeReal topped 50 Million installs in 2022, up more than 2200% since the beginning of the year. The app still trails social media giants as recent data reveals that only 9% of worldwide Android users open the app every day (compared to 39% of Instagrammers and 29% of TikTokers). But the traction has caught everyone’s attention; Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok all launched BeReal knockoffs throughout the year. Some brands, including American Eagle, Logitech, and Chipotle, started posting sneak peaks and branded content on a company BeReal account.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s erratic behavior has driven some consumers to seek out Twitter alternatives. Tumblr has made a resurgence recently and has made more bets on video, including a recent Livestream launch. The platform said that they’re excited about “video game sessions, book club discussions and Dungeons & Dragons games.” In 2023, we’re watching BeReal and Tumblr for more launches around video, plus expecting an evolution of new video formats across YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Snap.

Video across functions: Office workers across functions are increasingly using video content as part of their day-to-day work. In 2022, we saw video content emerging as an essential medium for political candidates, SMBs, emerging comedians and artists, and customer support teams. And the trend is just beginning. In the Sept 2021 survey “The State of Enterprise Video” by Socialive, 84% of enterprises experienced increased demand for video content in the last year, and 83% expressed strong interest in self-serve video technology to support the creation of new videos.  

Predictions for Creative Teams in 2023

In 2023, more content will move towards video rather than static images, presentations, and graphics. Enterprises report that using video content helps them reach a wider audience (58%), improve workforce engagement (52%), improve their ability to train staff quickly (48%), and enable their company to sell products and services more effectivley (41%). So, we predict that video will become increasingly ubiquitous in new business functions, putting demands on the quantity of video that companies produce. Creative teams should move away from bottlenecking all production work and towards making templates, brand kits, training materials, and approvals processes that ensure quality as more people get involved.

Repurposing and publishing across channels: An October 2022 survey showed that half of marketers are working with more platforms - such as Twitch and Tiktok - than at the beginning of 2022 (source). As a result, social media managers spend a bulk of their time repurposing content for different platforms.

In 2023, we predict that most office workers will become comfortable with trimming, resizing, converting file types, and adding subtitles for videos so that there are more collaborators and fewer bottlenecks. Companies will invest in training their creative teams to edit video and user-friendly solutions that lower the barriers to entry.

Conclusion: Looking Forward

Video has gotten radically more important over the last five years, but the software that creative teams use to create video content is still dominated by incumbents (Adobe Premiere, Da Vinci Resolve, and Final Cut Pro). Video editing has lagged behind other productivity categories because a browser-based video product depends on advancements in cloud infrastructure, image processing, and the web.

But this technology is evolving quickly, and it’s rapidly becoming possible to offer a solution that combines editing, hosting, and commenting in the same digital space even for very large files and complex videos. We’re making iterative improvements every day, and, although it isn’t perfect yet, Kapwing now supports files up to 6GB, real-time collaboration, team billing, and projects with hundreds of video layers. Our product already makes marketing teams and creative agencies more productive. In 2023, we hope to build a product that can serve the top 5% of Youtubers and large-scale media teams.

If you're a marketing or communications team looking for ways to make more, better video content, try out Kapwing for Teams.

<![CDATA[How to Build Culture at an Early-Stage Startup]]>https://www.kapwing.com/blog/what-is-culture/639a380e59ad4d464f12fe6aThu, 15 Dec 2022 02:14:07 GMT

When we started Kapwing back in 2018, my cofounder and I used to dream about how we would make our culture rich and unique once we had employees.

Gusto gives every new hire a watermelon. Notion has a shoeless office. Carta gives candidates a gorgeous offer letter. If we hired dozens of employees, what would be the symbols or traditions of our office space?

Maybe every person would go for a run with me (the CEO) on their first day. Maybe we'd include answering customer support tickets as part of onboarding. Maybe we'd come up with a cute nickname - Kaptains? - for the members of our team.

Now, 5 years later, we have a team of 40 based in San Francisco and New York. Although none of those cute ideas happened, our culture is pretty strong. Since those early conversations, I've learned a ton about company culture and how to build a culture that retains talent and enables innovation.

I've also noticed that questions about company culture are the most frequent from candidates applying for open jobs at Kapwing. When founders are recruiting, they must be prepared to give a snapshot of company culture. So, I'm writing this article to share my learnings with other first-time founders and pre-empt people interviewing at our company.

What is Kapwing's Culture Like?

This is the #1 question that we get from candidates applying for open jobs at Kapwing. So, we try to answer it prominently on our careers page and YouTube channel as it's relevant for people looking for a new role. Our company culture video to showcase the voices of our team:

To avoid redundancy, I won't describe our cultural pillars here. But yes, the career's page has an infographic that matches the posters hanging on the wall of our office, the slides in manager trainings, and the "Values" section of our getting started guide for new Kapwingers.

Interviewees who ask about culture are often asking about work-life balance and expected work hours. What I tell them is that Kapwing values creativity, and we know that wellness and psychological safety are key to creative thinking and risk taking. More specifically:

  • Flexible hours: We have unlimited PTO and people control their own calendars and workflows. We have set "co-collaboration" hours and expect people to be available on Slack within these hours, but are flexible to communicated absences.
  • In-person hybrid: Almost all Kapwingers work from the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our offices are based in downtown San Francisco and Bushwick Brooklyn.

Learnings about Building Company Culture

The Controversial, Non-Obvious Aspects of Culture Are the Most Formative

Every company wants to be innovative, non-political, and fast-moving, but not every company is. The aspects of company culture that will most stick out, guiding your hiring strategy and the trajectory of your employees, are the ones that distinguish you from the average tech company.

For us, "Done is better than perfect" has always been a defining characteristic that separates us from the average startup. I find us using this mantra regularly to help our team avoid perfectionism and encourage risk taking.

How to Build Culture at an Early-Stage Startup
The posters in our office show off our 6 company values

Show, Don't Tell

When talking to other people about your startup's culture, show, don't tell. Specific details are more memorable and credible than abstract generalizations. For example, at Kapwing, every engineer has production access. This is a better bit of info than "We give people autonomy to do their jobs." We've also updated our website more than once a day on average since we launched 4 years ago. This detail illustrates our velocity and tendency towards action.

We've found it's more effective to point candidates to artifacts of our culture than to try to describe it to them. Candidates often site our culture video as a reason they decided to apply. We also post startup culture videos on our growing Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube accounts.

How to Build Culture at an Early-Stage Startup

Consider How the Product and Business Impact Culture

Some aspects of the culture follow directly from the business model and industry. Consider what departments or functions are the most crucial for success at your startup, then optimize for that group.

I used to work at Google, a huge company where engineers lead the way and set culture. Stripe, in contrast, is a low-margin busienss and must squeeze out every penny. Companies like Adobe and Kapwing have more than 80% gross-margin, so our culture can afford to be more flexible and lax than, say, an airline.

How to Build Culture at an Early-Stage Startup

I've seen culture problems arise for some of my friends when, for example, a culture is designed in the early-days for engineers but later relies on sales people to drive revenue.

Find Some Way to Quantify

It's much easier to change what you can measure. To gauge the health of our company culture, we use a 4-question survey at the end of each quarter to get data from our full-time employees. Although it's limited, this survey gives us some signal to separate noise from patterns and troubleshoot culture issues.

I think of the EOQ survey as a leading indicator on the health of our business. Good culture leads to innovation, professional development, and retention down the road. The End of Quarter survey is the basis of our People Operations OKRs and has helped us build a sustainable business with steady growth. In my opinion, it's one of the things we've gotten right at Kapwing.

Our End of Quarter survey asks the same four questions:

  • I feel that my manager and my team care about me as a person
  • I feel challenged at work and I’m growing in my professional goals
  • I trust Kapwing’s leadership
  • If a friend was a good fit for an open role, I would strongly recommend Kapwing to them as a place to work

Kapwingers score each question on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) and can leave a free-response comment associated with any answer. We generally get very few comments (2-4 comments per question).

How to Build Culture at an Early-Stage Startup

The EOQ Survey is completely anonymous and run through either Google Forms or Lattice in March, June, September, and December. We push to get 100% response rate from full-time employees only, meaning constant pings and a healthy dose of peer pressure until everyone's answers are in.

Culture (Mostly) Comes from the Founders

The biggest influence on culture is the behavior of the founders. People will copy what the founders do, not what they say. If founders are trying to solve a culture problem, the first place to start is with themselves: how do I embody this problem? How can I act to show what values I live by?

I’ve found this over and over again while working on Kapwing. For example, it bothered me that, before the pandemic, our team would often come in to work after 10:30am. I tried many things to change this culture problem: adding the expectation to onboarding guides. Scolding people who came into the office late. Mentioning it in performance reviews. Repeating the expectation at team all-hands. None of these really solved the issue, and almost every day a couple of people would arrive late.

One of the people who would occasionally come in late was my cofounder, Eric. Although he said that he understood the 10:30am work start, he still complained about it and said he was too lazy to get in by then. One week, I decided to change my approach from telling all Kapwingers they should come in before 10:30 to instead focusing just on Eric and getting his buy-in. After some convincing, he and I both pledged to come in at 10am everyday for two weeks. Sure enough, people stopped coming in late, and in the third week we had pushed up our work arrival time without saying a word. When we showed that we had the discipline to get to the office on time, we set a culture of arriving on time.

How to Build Culture at an Early-Stage Startup
Four faces of the cofounders

In our experience, the founders have even more impact than executives and managers. Even though Eric is no longer the CTO, he still has enormous influence on culture.

Frameworks Matter

Two years after starting Kapwing, I sat down with our team to thoughtfully discuss culture before a big hiring push. Everyone had ideas of what they wanted to see in our culture, but not everyone agreed on what to prioritize. At the same time, it's difficult to talk about company culture without a shared language or framework to reference.

I've found it much easier to intentionally build culture with the Radical Candor and Conscious Leadership frameworks to build off of. These materials are integrated into hiring, managment training, onboarding, and  I highly recommend both books to founders, especially if you're a first-time manager. Santiago Suarez, the CEO of Addi, loved the Conscious Leadership framework so much that he would do a workshop for his team onsite each year costing north of $15,000. He saw this pricey experience as a worthwhile investment in culture.

Culture Evolves Over Time

Culture is about the guidance and processes you use to make decisions every day and the stories that you tell again and again. Like DNA, cultural memes stick when they create success and reproduce themselves in future batches of employees.

How to Build Culture at an Early-Stage Startup
IN 2019, an intern printed these wholesome memes for the bathroom mirrors in the office. They've followed us as we've moved offices and represent a culture of kindness, inclusion, and collaboration.

As a result, it's not possible to rigorously plan out your culture from day 1 – it will emerge organically from your habits and behaviors that lead to business success. To create great culture, be deliberate in selecting the most memorable stories that have a good moral, then telling and commemorating those stories for new hires. Like watermelons and doors for desks, good stories carry startup culture as the team grows.

<![CDATA[Google removed our website from search because it uses youtube-dl]]>Update: Google accepted our DMCA counter notice and reinstated all 317 Kapwing webpages that they took down. In the week that the takedown was in effect, our website traffic was down 30%.

A week ago, we received an email that every website owner dreads - a notification of a DMCA

https://www.kapwing.com/blog/google-erased-our-website/632803ae298eff202a58e2bdMon, 19 Sep 2022 07:10:56 GMT

Update: Google accepted our DMCA counter notice and reinstated all 317 Kapwing webpages that they took down. In the week that the takedown was in effect, our website traffic was down 30%.

A week ago, we received an email that every website owner dreads - a notification of a DMCA takedown request that has resulted in our website being removed from Google Search. In this email, Google summarized the takedown request (which can be viewed here) which accuses our company, Kapwing, of being "circumvention software" that circumvents Youtube's "rolling cipher".

Google removed our website from search because it uses youtube-dl

The DMCA takedown request has resulted in over 300 of our pages being removed from Google Search (including this blog you're reading right now!) and currently, even if you search for kapwing on Google, kapwing.com does not show up in the results.

In this post, I'll explain what we build as a company, why we think the takedown request was submitted, and why we feel that the request is unmerited.

I'm also writing this post as a cry for help - we haven't heard back from Google and currently, our small team's hard work of the last 5 years has essentially been erased from the internet, with no path to resolution.

What is Kapwing?

Kapwing is an online content creation product. Our product is mainly used for editing video, adding subtitles, and repurposing content from one platform to another. We are a Series A stage startup and from the beginning, we've always done our best to build an ethical and sustainable online business. Since we launched in 2018, we've helped millions of creators edit their own content and adapt it to best fit every new platform.

Google removed our website from search because it uses youtube-dl
Editing a video in Kapwing

We're a fully featured platform that allows creators to resize content, add text, edit video clips within a timeline, and much, much more - all within an online interface that doesn't require downloading or installing any software.

I write this all to express that we are in no way setting out to build circumvention software, key generators, or media decryption programs. We have always tried our best to build a reputable business that serves creators in the best way possible.

Why did we get a DMCA takedown request?

The DMCA takedown request states the following:

To our knowledge, the URLs indicated provide access to a service (and/or software) that circumvents YouTube's rolling cipher, a technical protection measure that protects our members' works on YouTube from unauthorised copying/downloading circumvention mechanism: circumvention software

This language felt familiar to us, and we realized it is the same language that was used when youtube-dl, a popular library that translates urls into direct content links, was taken down from GitHub. We use youtube-dl in a feature that allows a creator to paste a link to their own content and start editing the video itself.

Google removed our website from search because it uses youtube-dl
The paste a link feature on Kapwing

A creator can paste a link to a piece of content that they own, and then start editing the video within our editor. This logic was not implemented by us - essentially the function calls youtube-dl, then passes the output to our editor. This flow allows creators to more easily edit their own videos that are hosted on various places online, whether it was their own domain or popular sites like Imgur, Vimeo, or Youtube. This exact feature is also implemented on popular sites like Streamable and Giphy, where a user can paste a URL and start editing their content:  

Google removed our website from search because it uses youtube-dl
Giphy's paste a link feature, which inspired us to build a similar feature

Though the DMCA request does not say explicitly, we believe that this feature is what the takedown request was initiated - as the exact language of a "rolling cipher bypass" and "circumvention software" was used in the RIAA takedown of youtube-dl.

Why do we think this DMCA takedown request is unfair?

We kept the paste-a-link feature in Kapwing after Github reinstated youtube-dl and the Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted a letter that concluded that this project does not establish a violation of the law. The main reason we feel that this DMCA takedown request is without merit is because precedent has been set, both legally and within other prominent products that implement the exact same feature, that this is not a violation of copyright law. We've written no specific code that allows for circumvention - our feature calls youtube-dl directly and passes the result back to our frontend. We felt that because this library was ruled as not a violation of copyright law, and because the precedent of this type of feature is allowed on many prominent sites on Google Search, that it would be ok to allow this in our product as it greatly helps creators get started.

Even outside of this feature, we as a company always done our best to ensure that we respect copyright holders - at the end of the day, we ourselves serve original content creators. We maintain a strict clause in our terms of service which specifies that users can only use Kapwing to for videos that they have the rights to:

You’re responsible for the content you post. This means you assume all risks related to it, including someone else’s reliance on its accuracy, or claims relating to intellectual property or other legal rights.

By posting content you didn’t create to Kapwing, you are representing that you have the right to do so. For example, you are posting a work that’s in the public domain, used under license (including a free license, such as Creative Commons), or a fair use.

Every user must acknowledge the terms of service when they create a new account on Kapwing. In addition, we maintain an email address - privacy@kapwing.com - that anyone can reach out to if they believe that someone misused Kapwing’s tools and violated our terms of service, and we have a policy of taking down any content from our cloud servers if we receive information that it violates copyright. We maintain a designated agent in the DMCA Directory (registration number DMCA-1027598) and always respond to issues raised there. This procedure is detailed in our privacy policy.

Beyond this, the DMCA takedown request has been especially devastating for our website due to how far reaching it is, and how many pages it listed (over 300). For example, one of the pages taken down is our EDU page, which does not link to our product at all but rather is a place for teachers and students to apply for paid accounts for free. Other URLs taken down include popular posts from our blog, such as one that discusses product analytics at start ups. We don't understand how pages like this have anything to do with circumvention software - they don't even provide a way to get started with Kapwing at all - and they have all been delisted from Google Search without a way for us to appeal them.

Finally, Kapwing is not a Youtube downloader. If you search for youtube downloader, there are tons of spammy websites that directly allow a user to rip videos off of youtube. It feels unfair that these websites are allowed to rank, while our website, a reputable online video editor, has been removed for completely legitimate queries.

Google removed our website from search because it uses youtube-dl
Youtube Video Downloaders that are allowed to rank on Google

The hardest part of this process is that we don't know exactly why we have been taken down, or what we can do to be restored. We can only speculate that it is due to the paste a link feature, but even this is hard to believe as there has been clear precedent set in the past that this is not in violation of copyright law. Many other (large) sites are allowed to exist with the exact same feature, so we really don't know what we need to fix, if anything.

A cry for help

This post is a cry for help to Google to stand up for smaller web developers who have always tried to do the right thing. This DMCA takedown request has been devastating for our business as it makes it difficult even for our own customers to find our site. We didn't receive advance notice of the take down request, and we weren't given a chance to change or improve our product before it was removed from Google Search. We haven't received any communication or response from Google for how we could address the concerns. We are willing to do whatever it takes to comply with the law - we just wish we knew what it was.

In startups, progress is measured in days and weeks, not years, and for creators to be unable to find us through Google Search for the last week has been heartbreaking for our team, who have always worked hard to build a reliable and ethical product.  

We don't have the resources or runway to stand up to every takedown request. If you or anyone you know has a way of getting in contact with Google to help restore our website, we would truly appreciate your help in standing up for a small startup trying to do the right thing.

Below, I give the day-by-day timeline of how long it took Google to reinstate our pages. We decided to include this section to help other entrepreneurs know how to successfully re-instate their pages if their website is the target of a bogus DMCA takedown.

tl;dr Fill out Google's counter-notice form for every URL that was removed from Search. This is the fastest way to get your pages back up on Google. In our case, it took about 4 business days for them to review our counter-notice and reinstate the pages.

On Wednesday afternoon, we received the initial takedown notice from Google. That evening, we followed Google's recommended action in response:

Google removed our website from search because it uses youtube-dl

As recommended, we sent a lengthy email to the linked email address, dmca-agent@google.com, explaining why the DMCA notice was filed in error. We included a list of all the URLs that were included in the initial request. In response, we received an automated reply:

If you'd like us to process your complaint as it currently is, first make sure that it is complete under the DMCA's guidelines. You can confirm this by replying to this email with: "This notice is complete." We'll process your complaint, but we can process it quicker if you submit it through our web form.

So I replied to the email with "This notice is complete." For good measure, I also filled out the webform, copying each of the 317 links one by one.

The email and web form didn't work. On Friday, two days later, DMCA-agent replied to the email thread asking me to provide more information about my DMCA complaint. They thought I was responding to an existing ticket rather than filing a new ticket. Similarly, the webform linked from this email is the webform for handling DMCA complaints, not counter notices. In both cases, Google is not clearly giving webmasters instructions for appealing a DMCA takedown notice or filing a counter notice.

Thankfully, my cofounder had found the link to the correct form - Google's counter-notice form - in the help center documentation. They shared it with me, and I filled it out, just in case, on Thursday morning. This process was time-intensive as we had to copy each one of the URLs one by one and paste it into a new line. I ended up only submitting the form for 71 of the 371 URLs, since I'd already submitted the response email.

On Sunday, 3 days after submitting the first counter-notice, we finished submitting the form for the remaining 246 pages in three batches.

We also published this blog post on Sunday, which hit the top of Hacker News with almost 400 upvotes.

Google removed our website from search because it uses youtube-dl

On Sunday, I also DM'ed @dannysullivan, Google's public search liaison, on Twitter. He responded telling me I should fill out the counter-notice form and that he'd "pinged some people internally on this," referencing this blog post.

On Monday, 6 days after the initial takedown notice (5 days after submitting the counter-notice, including weekends), we received an update from Google that they'd restored access to 71 of the 317 pages. Our counter-notice was approved:

The information you provided creates a factual doubt about whether the material available on your site is a prohibited circumvention tool that enables a user to circumvent a technological protection measure within the meaning of applicable law.

We're still waiting on the other 246 pages, including the Kapwing home page and several landing pages, to be restored on Google Search.

The manual labor required to file a counter-notice is another reason why it's abusive for an agency to file a bulk takedown request on a reputable small business. I think Google should be more diligent about ensuring webmasters get pointed to the correct resources for appealing a takedown, as it had a significant impact on our business over the course of the last week. I shared this feedback with @DannySullivan in our Twitter DMs. He replied:

Google removed our website from search because it uses youtube-dl

Hopefully, this explanation helps other reputable webmasters ensure that their web content remains in good standing on search and avoid DMCA takedown abuse.

<![CDATA[Working with Lawyers: 9 Learnings for Startup Founders]]>https://www.kapwing.com/blog/legal-at-a-saas-startup/631a4512298eff202a58e11dFri, 09 Sep 2022 00:07:40 GMT

The startup fraud genre has become a meme over the last two years. But if you’re a startup founder yourself, watching these exposes is sometimes scary because it highlights how a series of small mistakes can snowball into disaster.

Lawyers can give you peace of mind, assuring you that you’ve covered your bases and that you’re running a clean business. But, at the same time, lawyers are freaking expensive. When cash-strapped entrepreneurs face a legal issue like patents, incorporation, equity, contracts, etc, there’s often a question of if it’s worth it to consult a lawyer or not. Many of these questions arise in the earliest stages when you need to be funneling capital into product development and marketing.

I’ve been a startup founder for five years now and have faced many of these questions myself.  In this article, I wanted to share my learnings about working with lawyers: mistakes we made, things we got right, and how reality differed from my expectations. I hope that sharing my experience helps other entrepreneurs gain perspective on how much they should spend on legal advice when they’re getting started and growing a young business.

Although our startup has a simple, self-serve subscription model and little legal complexity, we’ve spent more than $200k on legal costs in aggregate over the last four years. Below is a breakdown of how much we’ve spent per year.

Working with Lawyers: 9 Learnings for Startup Founders

Timeline: My cofounder and I incorporated our startup, Kapwing, in April of 2018. That summer, we raised a seed round from a group of investors including KPCB and hired six employees. In 2019, with our business booming, we raised a Series A.

That Series A financing cost us almost $100,000 in legal costs. I know — GULP. See mistakes, below.

Since the Series A, we’ve worked with an experienced, expensive law firm - Fenwick & West - as Kapwing’s general counsel. They advise on board meetings, financing and M&A, contracts, consulting agreements, governance, partnerships, cap table management and governance, terms of service, hiring and firing, and more.

In 2020, someone sued Kapwing, so I got some experience handling legal proceedings. Fenwick recommended that we work with a more specialized, less expensive law firm because the case was straightforward but could last a while. They were right; the employment lawsuit dragged on for 18 months.

Working with Lawyers: 9 Learnings for Startup Founders


Below are my set of learnings from working with lawyers over the last five years. Note that I am not a lawyer; this article is just one entrepreneur’s experience, so please consult a real lawyer if you want to get real legal advice. I realize there are many ways to handle these issues and do not claim that my decisions are “right.”

Incorporation Should be Almost Free

In the first two years of running our company, we spent almost nothing. Since we were bootstrapping at the time, we incorporated the company through Stripe Atlas and hired an inexpensive local lawyer to help us with basic contract review, IP agreements, and equity arrangements. We filed our own trademark and copyright application. When we raised $1.7M in seed money, we downloaded the standard no-discount SAFE from the YC website. We used the standard contracts offered in Gusto to hire our first few employees and contractors. Our first privacy policy and Terms of Service (TOS) was a direct copy of the text from Medium, a similar publishing website, with the company names switched out.

Working with Lawyers: 9 Learnings for Startup Founders
Screenshot of the privacy notice that we put on our internal admin pages, to protect users and remind employees to have discretion. We wrote this ourselves. 

In my opinion, these were good decisions. We didn’t get sued. After all, when you’re just starting out, it makes little sense for someone to sue you as you don’t have much cash. As a result, legal liability was low on our list of problems compared to finding product-market fit. As Eric used to say, “getting sued is our 12th biggest problem” and “if we’re getting sued, we’ve probably made it anyway.”

Eventually, we did get sued, but only after we raised 8 figures and started working with a fancy tech law firm. And it turns out that real-time consultation and the “flawless” employment contracts didn’t make a big difference or help us much in the lawsuit. The lawsuit was baseless, but we still had to fight it, costing us tens of thousands of dollars. More on this later…

Write Down Your Founders Agreement

When we decided that we were going to try to fundraise, Eric and I realized that we needed to formalize our equity agreement. So, we searched for “Founders Agreement” on Google, filled out the template, and signed it. Later on, when working with Fenwick, this simple Google Doc became a crucial part of the Series A due diligence. Our lawyers rewrote it after we discussed it many times, and CRV’s lawyers scrutinized it.

For us, this was a non-issue as Eric and I didn’t have any disputes as cofounders. But many startups end with a cofounder breakup, and I’d advice every early-stage entrepreneur to put time and energy into the details of their founders agreement. In the early stages of a startup, these negotiations feel overly formal, but if you need it, you’re going to be grateful that you invested the diligence ahead of time.

File Your Own Trademark

I filed our first trademark myself, and it took about a day of work. Recently, when we rebranded, our office manager filled out the paperwork for a trademark. It’s not that hard, although you do need to pay attention to the details.

Working with Lawyers: 9 Learnings for Startup Founders

How Do You Pick Which Law Firm to Work With?

I asked my investors for intros to startup law firms and met with partners at each firms. I ended up meeting with Fenwick & West, Wilson Sonsini, and Cooley. I made my decision based on which of the lawyers felt the most trustworthy and which seemed that they would least waste my time. I’m generally frugal and wanted to find a firm that would respect our constrains.

Working with Lawyers: 9 Learnings for Startup Founders
Business card from the "Intro to Cooley" session

Fenwick’s Samuel Angus, the partner who ended up selling me, was a good listener and seemed like a good person with similar values. The partner we met with at Cooley was (frankly) ridiculous. He scheduled a two-hour lunch where he bragged about the firm and asked almost nothing about Kapwing. The lunch went over time despite me hinting that I needed to go and was quite busy. I wasn’t impressed with the Wilson Sonsini partner either.

So we went with Fenwick.

Is an Experienced Law Firm Worth the Cost?

Is it worth it to work with a big expensive law firm? Probably, once you’ve raised money or are making millions in revenue.

The first lawyer we worked with at the seed stage mostly worked for local businesses: book stores, ecommerce, restaurants. She was smart, adaptable, and efficient, and I trusted her to review and summarize complicated agreements. Her firm did a great job reviewing our office lease, early employment contracts, our IP agreement, service agreements, etc.

When we got our Series A term sheet, I reviewed it with her, then also reviewed it with Sam at Fenwick. With a long roster of similar deals to draw from on both sides of the table, Sam quickly highlighted the relevant terms, explaining what was standard, what was exceptional, and what we should negotiate. His advice was timely and specific to Silicon Valley tech startups. In contrast, our first lawyer had no similar experience to draw on. She couldn’t tell us what was “good” compared to other similar companies and wasn’t a great negotiating partner as a result.

Since then, we’ve reviewed multiple term sheets, partnership agreements, and acquisition offers with Sam, and he’s brought the same broad knowledge of the market and current conditions to his advice. For almost all other issues, we work with the legal associates on Sam’s team, but fundraising and M&A are worth paying top dollar for, in my opinion.

In retrospect, there were a couple of places where our seed stage lawyer’s advice turned out weirdly. For example, it’s pretty important to make sure every contractor you work with signs an IP Agreement, and this wasn’t something that our lawyer emphasized. She also set up equity in a weird way for our early employees. But it was easy to undo these things when we started working with Fenwick at the Series A.

Lawyers optimize for low liability. Because they bill per minute, they get paid more if they take longer, meaning they have an incentive to do more work than needed. As a result, law firms will always find work to do for you and will not cut corners. This can be very expensive for you, and it does not prevent you from getting sued. My advice to founders is to make it clear to the partners that you work with that you’re frugal. Review your first law firm invoice in detail so that your lawyers remember not to overbill.

Can You Google It Instead?

In my experience, lawyers have trouble de-familiarizing themselves from legal jargon and explaining things to uninformed audiences. We’ve consistently experienced that it’s easier to do our own research on legal topics than it is to ask a lawyer to clarify. If something seems very simple, it probably is.

Should you sponsor H1(B) visas?

Most American founders know that as soon as you put up a job posting, applications will start coming in – but often qualified applicants need visa sponsorship. Although we hated turning away those qualified candidates for legal reasons, we made the decision not to sponsor new immigration visas because of the lottery system and the arduous timeline.

Eventually, we met a senior UX designer candidate who had a FAANG-sponored visa already and needed us to transfer that sponsorship, and we decided to do it. The whole arrangement cost us about $6000 in total while working with an attorney specializing in immigration and a lot of time + attention to detail. But we got through it. In the end, $6k is small compared to the impact of a high-performing designer.

Most entrepreneurs I've talked to about this topic have a similar policy to ours. However, the founders that do go through the process of filing H1Bs - like Cliff at Speechify – do differentiate themselves in a competitive labor market.

Take Care with Terminations

Before I fired someone for the first time, I talked to my lawyers, business school professors, other entrepreneurs, and some investors. I had rehearsed it and written out what I was going to say. I’d pre-drafted the email that I would send confirming the termination and had each person sign a separation agreement. In other words, I took great care to make sure I fired someone with compassion, clarity, and completeness. Sure enough, we have not yet been sued by an ex-employee.

Beware that if you've parted ways with a former employee for any reason, you should be careful about what you say in reference calls for that employee. What you say in a reference call can later be evidence for discrimination or defamation. When we acted on information we got in a reference call and decided not to move forward with a job offer, the candidate sued us and her previous employer.

Working with Lawyers: 9 Learnings for Startup Founders
Tempting to tell-all to other founders in a reference call? Beware that there's legal danger here

What Happens When You Get Sued?

Since raising our Series A, we’ve been sued once. Context: The plaintiff was a candidate we considered hiring. We decided not to move forward with a job offer after doing a reference call, and the candidate sued us for breach of contract – and her previous employer for defamation.

Working with Lawyers: 9 Learnings for Startup Founders

In my opinion, the lawsuit was unfounded. Regardless, we tried to settle but the plaintiff wouldn’t listen to or accept our offers, so we were forced to move towards trial. Thankfully, a judge agreed that the case had no basis and threw out the suit, but it cost us $30,000 in lawyer fees regardless.

One thing I learned is that when you win a law suit, the other side pays your “legal fees,” meaning the offical court filing fees. For us, this was a fraction of the lawyer fees required to settle the suit. tl;dr — There’s no such thing as winning if you get sued.

Nonetheless, if you've been sued recently, rest assured that you will survive, albeit with emptier pockets. I shielded my team from the process, found a lawyer, went through the paperwork and discovery, reviewed evidence, and did the deposition. All-in-all, I appreciated the learning experience in a relatively low-stakes environment.


One of our cultural pillars at our startup is “Done is better than perfect.” Not so, for lawyers. Every company must find the right balance of risk, speed, and cost, but slow-moving law firms are almost certainly slower and more careful than innovative startups.

At Kapwing, we’ve been relatively frugal, but we’ve also spent more in recent years to review areas like our privacy policy, contractor agreements, leases and employee handbook where we once cut corners. This approach helped us keep costs down when we had nothing and gradually reduce risk as we got more funding.

<![CDATA[How to Get Started with SEO]]>https://www.kapwing.com/blog/getting-started-with-seo-a-guidebook/62f6b392298eff202a58decfFri, 12 Aug 2022 21:38:29 GMT

I'm the cofounder / CEO of a startup called Kapwing, an online video editor for modern creators. Kapwing gets millions of website visitors every month through organic Google Search, supporting a business nearing 8 digits in revenue. Our knowledge of SEO has also helped us grow our company's YouTube channel to 170k subscribers.

This article is a guide to getting started with SEO. It's designed for entrepreneurs who are trying to grow traffic to their website, but don't have any previous background or expertise in SEO. Kapwing's mission is to serve creators, so I also hope this article can help creative professionals and founders leverage search to grow their audience, brand, and customer base organically.

I’ve tried to keep this guidebook as brief and direct as possible.

Caveat: My cofounder and I also used to work as Product Managers on Google Search, so we've respected and paid attention to SEO from Day 1. While we've learned a lot on the journey, I'm still learning a tremendous amount about SEO myself everyday. Nothing in this article is authoritative; it's based on the experience of one person at one startup. The tides of Google Search are constantly changing, so students of SEO must be continuous learners.

What is SEO?

Let's start with a screenshot of a Google Search query: "hamster cages"

How to Get Started with SEO

Notice that the first results at the top are marked as "sponsored." That means that a business or brand paid Google to appear in that position. Called "Search Engine Marketing" or SEM, appearing in the sponsored results requires a very different approach that SEO, which is described in this article. SEO ≠ SEM.

Below that, Google displays webpages (sometimes called "blue links"). These webpages appear “organically,” meaning that Google displays them because the Google algorithms think those websites are the best resources for your inquiry. In this example, Google recommends Petco’s catalog as the top website for hamster cages.

This example illustrates the value of SEO. Petco has a huge advantage from showing up as the first organic result because they attract views from all the people who type this query into Google with intent to buy. They likely make a lot of money a year on this query and others like it.

So how do you get Google to prefer your website for relevant queries? SEO is the the art & science of increasing your ranking in organic search results to bring more quality traffic to your website.

Why You Should Care About SEO

If you run a company that gets customers on the internet, you should care about SEO. You do not need to be a software engineer to get good at SEO; if fact, creative entrepreneurs, creators, and artists will have a head start. Here are five reasons that SEO is one of the best (maybe the best) marketing channels:

  1. Quantity: Billions of people are on Google, so SEO has broad reach. Google is by far the world’s dominant search engine and the gateway to the internet.
  2. Quality: People who search on Google have very high intent to find solutions to their problem. On search, you get to your target customer right in their moment of need and are much more likely to convert them.
  3. Legitimacy: Unlike ads or sales, people trust Google to an astounding degree. They trust Google so much that SEO blends into everyday life and feels like word of mouth.
  4. Sustainability: New people come onto the internet every day. You never "run out" of customers in your target audience.
  5. It's free: SEO is one of the most accessible marketing channels as it requires no capital. In a tough economy, it may be one of the only options for growth.

SEO is a good fit for almost any business, but it’s especially important for businesses that address problems that people search online for. And let’s be honest: there are increasingly few things that people buy without consulting Google. Mattresses used to be purchased offline, at a local store; now, Casper and thousands of others have moved mattress shopping online. Babysitters, cookbooks, cyber security automation: all of these product categories have relevant Google searches a business could target.

The Impact of SEO on Our Business

Here’s another example from our own website, Kapwing. We have a Video Trimmer landing page that gets about 1.2 Million impressions on Google Search and 90k clicks each month. Of those page views, more than 22k people trim a video, and a small fraction of those creators upgrade to Kapwing Pro. This landing page therefore delivers hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for us every year.

How to Get Started with SEO

We found this search opportunity back in 2017 when video was taking off as a storytelling medium. While researching user needs, my cofounder and I noticed that most of the Google results for “Trim video” and other basic video editing queries were websites full of malware and buttons that didn’t work. So, we thought that if we built an easy, trustworthy solution for trimming videos, it would probably rank on Google above the alternatives. And it did! Now we have Trim Audio and Trim GIF pages that follow a similar model.

That’s how we started our company that now makes >$6M per year with no ads spend. This article shares how we did it and how you can too.

How to Get Started with SEO

The model I present below is obviously simplified. It's designed to be a starting point for founders who want to explore SEO but aren't sure how to get started. There are two discrete steps to getting started with SEO:

  1. Target search queries
  2. Rank for those queries

These steps can and should be explore separately.

How to Get Started with SEO

Step 1) Target Search Queries

First off, web developers need to create landing pages that are optimized for specific search queries.

How to Get Started with SEO

To create pages that target search keywords, you first need to decide what keywords or keyword patterns you’re going to go after.

1a) Brainstorming Queries

The first step in SEO is to brainstorm a huge list of things that your customers might be searching for on Google. Go broad. Make a spreadsheet of 1000 ideas. Think about all the possible things that someone might need, wonder, or research around the time they need your product or service. Here’s some tips on brainstorming:

Think like a searcher: Start noticing your own search habits and the habits of your friends. Regularly look through your own search history to observe the language patterns, habits, and common topics. Over time, you’ll develop an intuition for what people type into Google. Search queries are literal, direct, and brief. On search, people are gossipy, crude, not PC, and bad at spelling. They don’t include “marketing speak” — they search for what they need. Empathize with your customer to identify their needs, then translate those needs into search language.

Direct, adjacent, and indirect queries: It’s easy to think of keywords where the customer is looking directly for your product with an intent to buy. As a result, these purchase intent keywords are often the most competitive and hardest to rank for. When you’re starting out, consider adjacent queries, the questions someone has when looking for something similar or “nearby” to your product. For example, a backpack company would benefit from ranking for “school supplies.” Patagonia would cash in for clicks on “xgames schedule” even though they sell apparel, not snowboards. Indirect queries, where someone is searching for information rather than intent to buy, can also be a good avenue to get in front of customers. For example, a pool repairmen would do well if someone searched for “how to unclog pool cleaner” or “best pool tiling.”

Trending vs evergreen: Generally, evergreen topics have the highest return because people will always be searching for them. However, when you’re just getting started, it may be easier to find SEO opportunity for emerging and trending topics. These are the topics that no one has written on yet, so there’s a gap in information available online. Ideally, you cover topics that are emerging, meaning they’re growing steadily in search traffic rather than having ephemeral traffic that will soon disappear. For example, at Kapwing, we published one of the first resources about how to make an NFT, and it was our most successful article and video ever. Consider keyword ideas in all three categories:

  • Evergreen topics: These search queries have stable search volume and are here to stay. i.e. “How to tie a shoe”
  • Emerging topics: rising. Topics that are increasing into relevant topics and will be relevant for a long time. i.e. “Ukraine war” or “Instagram Reels”
  • Trending topics: Spikey queries that are very popular right now, but will fade after a few days. ie “Keke Palmer tweet”
How to Get Started with SEO

1b) Research & Prioritization

What makes a good keyword to go after? The ideal search query has:

  • A lot of volume: Many people look this up every month, meaning you have many potential leads.
  • High relevance/intent to purchase: The people searching are likely to be your customer.
  • Low competition: You can serve this need better than other resources that rank for that query.

One approach is to prioritize the keyword ideas that score well in all of these categories. At Kapwing, we combine measures of these three values to yield an “opportunity score” for every keyword idea. This subject research is also helpful in identifying topics for YouTube videos.

Below is a table that illustrates this SEO approach for a company called Maslo, an AI-powered app that improves mental health through daily journaling and responsive prompts. The founder brainstormed keyword ideas like “online therapist” and “best meditation apps” (see Step 1a) and scored them across volume, relevance, and competition.

How to Get Started with SEO

For example, while “daily journal” has the highest search volume, it is also the name of a popular newspaper, so it has low relevance for the product. In the end, this research showed that “daily app” or “online therapist” were probably better queries to target.

An alternative strategy is to programmatically generate pages so that you can create highly-relevant pages for many low-volume keywords (see Zapier’s growth story). A third approach is to leverage a community to create original content on pages, like Quora, Goodreads, and TripAdvisor. But these are more advanced strategies. If you're just getting started, do the research on 1000 queries to find the ones with the most potential.

1c) Optimize a Web Page for the Query

Once you’ve decided on the keywords you want to target, make a landing page optimized for each one:

  • Build the landing pages specifically for the target query. Feature your target keywords prominently on your website (in the title, tags, etc)
  • Write content and design graphics that answer the query directly

For example, this landing page on Kapwing obviously targets "Add Audio to Video." The target query is featured prominently in the title, repeated in the subtitle, and included in the URL. The original copy and images on the page help users with this task.

How to Get Started with SEO

There’s a HUGE industry around “technical SEO” that promises to improve the layout of your pages for huge SEO wins. In my experience, technical SEO is vastly overrated. If you're a web developer, follow intuitive rules for targeting search queries with optimized web pages –  legible text, good design, etc – rather than paying someone to make pages for you. I'd advise against spending too much time or money on technical SEO.

Et voila! You’ve accomplished step one: making a website that targets search queries. The next step is about actually getting those webpages to appear on Google. Most people find Step 1 easier than Step 2 as targeting search queries is fully under your control, whereas ranking depends on input from third parties.

Step 2) Rank on Google

The most important ingredient in ranking well on Google search are backlinks. A backlink is a hyperlink from another domain that points back to your website.

"Counting citations or backlinks to a given page... gives some approximation of a page's importance or quality."

Quote from the PhD dissertation that Google's founders, Larry and Sergey, wrote back in the 90s.

Getting backlinks — or “linkbuilding” — is mostly an art rather than a science or an engineering problem. There are thousands of strategies, but you have to be creative, making stuff on the internet that is worthy of linking to. There is absolutely no silver bullet.

I’ve written a blog post on backlinking, so, for the sake of brevity I will skip over link building in this article. At a high level, linkbuilding activities mostly fall into these categories: publicity, content marketing, embedded widgets, and pure hustle. SEO giants master all four.

How to Get Started with SEO

To get ideas, study the SEO strategies of tech giants and jump on the low-hanging fruit. Ask your friends who have websites to mention you. Fill out profiles on startup directories. Beg bloggers to write articles. Put a newsworthy spin on your business and pitch it to journalists. Do stunts. All of these are ways to get links from other websites.

Another approach I recommend is to consider what your personal superpowers are, your unfair advantages. For example, I’m a good writer and also an engineer, so I’ve been able to tell compelling stories about technical topics for HackerNews. My cofounder is an excellent designer and engineer, so he’s excelled in spinning up fun, entertaining web apps like Cartoonify. Think about how you can turn your existing skills into shareable content on the web.

Linkbuilding is mostly a creative exercise, but there are few basic rules to constrain your ideas:

  1. You can’t purchase links: If Google catches you paying websites to link to you, they will manually demote your website, killing your business. Polyvore, for example, died this way after years of “gray hat” SEO tactics. Of course, "you can't buy backlinks" is a vague and imprecise mandate, so webmasters must use their judgement and balance potential liability.
  2. Get links from authoritative websites: Not all links are created equal. Getting links from websites that produce good, original, insightful content about your domain is better than a spammy, empty, or new website or a publisher that mostly talks about an irrelevant subject.
  3. If possible, surround your links with your target keywords: Ideally the anchor text — the words wrapped in the blue hyperlink — has something to do with what you sell or provide.
  4. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter don’t count: Some websites, including most social media platforms, don’t allow Google to crawl them and index the links they have.
  5. It takes a few weeks for Google to index links, but backlinks lasts forever. It will take weeks for your ranking to improve, especially when you’re getting started. Be patient.
  6. Must link your domain: www.kapwing.com. NOT a subdomain, like blog.kapwing.com. NOT your Substack, YouTube or Medium account. At Kapwing, we use Ghost, an open-source CMS, to manage our blog.
How to Get Started with SEO

SEO Misconceptions

1) You should outsource SEO

My cofounder and I have talked to several SEO agencies, hired and fired a highly-experienced SEO Director, and worked with a backlinking agency for $50,000 earlier this year, and none of them did better than Eric and I when we were trying to figure it out ourselves in a scrappy, organic way. Anyone can do SEO, as long as you have the ability to make new webpages. You do not need any formal training or education beyond reading this blog post. Most successful entrepreneurs become an expert in sales, SEO, or paid ads, so pick your favorite and go deep.

2) Technical optimizations can make a huge difference

In my opinion, technical optimizations matter for 1 to n SEO, not 0 to 1. Even for Kapwing, with millions of monthly-active users, a technical SEO overhaul last fall had little impact on search position.

3) There’s an SEO “secret” or “silver bullet” that you’re missing

Like I mentioned, this is not the case. One of the reasons SEO is a great channel for startups is that it is hard for large mega-companies to scale the creativity and ingenuity required to identify search opportunities and earn backlinks. Embrace the creative challenge of making awesome content or empowering a community to make content.

4) SEO == Blogging

Your website can have great domain authority without having a blog.

There are two discrete steps for SEO: make new web pages that rank for a specific query and rank for that query. Blogging achieves both because a new blog post is a webpage in itself and it has content that could earn backlinks.

However, there are many other activities that achieve step 1 or step 2, and it may be much more effective to pursue the two tasks separately. In my opinion, people often conflate building webpages with building backlinks, constraining them to blog post ideas rather than activities better suited for their skills.


SEO is a slog, requiring ongoing maintenance, hustle, and continued learning. But it’s also a surprisingly equitable playing field rewarding those who add value. At Kapwing, we’ve grown our business to millions of ARR mostly on the back of SEO, beating out huge competitors like Adobe and Canva who haven't moved as quickly.

I hope that this Guide to SEO gives you clarity on how to get started with SEO. Readers of this guide hopefully appreciate now how much Google impacts our lives; searchers trust it so much that they forget about the marketers, media publishers, and entrepreneurs manipulating their choices under the hood of Google’s algorithm. In this way, SEO is the hidden algorithm of the internet. Mastering it will help you race towards product market fit.

Special thanks to Village Global, one of Kapwing's seed investors. Ben Casnocha encouraged me to write this article after I led an SEO workshop at the annual Village Global retreat in 2021. I appreciate the support and the backlink!

<![CDATA[Introducing Kapwing for Education: Free Pro accounts for students and teachers]]>https://www.kapwing.com/blog/introducing-kapwing-for-education-free-pro-accounts-for-students-and-teachers/62f2ced1569b6c083f91db14Wed, 10 Aug 2022 21:59:36 GMTApply for a free account
Introducing Kapwing for Education: Free Pro accounts for students and teachers

Update: As of December 15th, 2022 we are putting a pause on accepting new applicants for the Kapwing for Education program as we focus on product improvements. If you’re interested in joining the program in the future, please visit kapwing.com/edu and fill out the form to be placed on the waitlist. In the meantime, you can try out Kapwing for free!

This is Katherine, the Product Manager for Kapwing for Education, and it’s my pleasure to announce the launch of this new experience on Kapwing.

Serving students and teachers has been a north star of my journey at Kapwing. Prior to joining the team, I worked as an English Teacher for two years at a high school in Madrid, Spain. Through this experience, I learned firsthand how digital tools and the spread of the internet have opened up worlds of opportunities to make learning in classrooms more engaging and effective.

Introducing Kapwing for Education: Free Pro accounts for students and teachers
With my students in Spain on Halloween!

Learning is evolving.

In my experience teaching, programs like Scratch and Google Slides enriched the classroom experience by making learning more dynamic. Digital tools make it easier for me and other teachers to plan lessons, find resources, and make learning more engaging while enabling students to work collaboratively and increase their digital literacy in our modern world.

Of course, as we saw with the Covid-19 pandemic, digital tools became critical for learning to continue outside of physical classrooms too and led to the rise of remote learning. However, while they’ve enhanced learning in many fields like science, math, and writing, video creation has remained less accessible for many students and teachers. Traditional video editors are usually expensive, hard to learn, and only run well on fancy laptops that aren’t available in classrooms.

Kapwing has been part of the movement to make video creation more accessible in classrooms for years.

Because it’s built in the browser, our video editor enables anyone to create videos from anywhere in the world on any device – no editing experience required. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we offered Kapwing Pro subscriptions for free to educators affected by emergency closures. And last year, we partnered with Google to make Kapwing available as an app on Chromebooks, the laptop which most K-12 students use.

Introducing Kapwing for Education: Free Pro accounts for students and teachers

In my time at Kapwing, I've had the opportunity to support and connect with our user base. In conversations with Kapwing users, I've been consistently impressed by the creativity that teachers express through their projects and use cases on Kapwing. I always thought of teachers as magically innovative, but seeing the ways in which they utilize video as a means of communication with their students, families, and broader educational communities is awe inspiring.

We've learned from Amber Jones, a music teacher who found sharing videos with students and families was the best way to promote in-class engagement and parental participation. I've heard from Michael Dougherty, an English teacher who edits YouTube clips, images, and text together to serve as a visual learning aid for students in his class, allowing them to navigate and work on content at their own learning pace. As we talk to more teachers, it becomes clear that there’s still a huge need for digital video creation tools that are accessible to learners and educators.

We want to empower the next generation of creators and their teachers to tell their stories though video.

That’s why we’re excited to introduce Kapwing for Education 🎉 We’re making Kapwing Pro 100% free for educators at K-12 schools and universities as well as for students who are over 13 years old in K-12 schools.

Here’s how Kapwing can transform learning in classrooms, for both educators and students:

Bring learning to life

Teachers and students can create all types of multimedia content in Kapwing – no editing experience required. We have all the tools you need to record presentations, complete group projects, edit videos, design worksheets, and more.

Introducing Kapwing for Education: Free Pro accounts for students and teachers

Make learning accessible for everyone

Add subtitles or translate any video automatically in just a few clicks. Because Kapwing is online, you and your students can access projects anywhere in the world on any device, including Chromebooks.

Introducing Kapwing for Education: Free Pro accounts for students and teachers

Build on existing resources

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with your lessons or assignments. Start creating with thousands of templates, copyright free images, music, and import videos from the internet just by pasting a link.

Introducing Kapwing for Education: Free Pro accounts for students and teachers

Collaborate inside and outside the classroom

Edit videos together in real time to help everyone’s creative vision come to life. Remote learning also becomes easier when you can share work just by sending the Kapwing link.

Introducing Kapwing for Education: Free Pro accounts for students and teachers

Get your free Kapwing Pro account today

If you’re a student or teacher, apply for your Kapwing for Education account and learn more about the program below. We look forward to seeing how you harness the power of video creation for learning!

To learn more about how Kapwing can help you, please register here for our webinar on September 21st. We'll talk about the basics of using Kapwing and provide tips for improving your videos.

<![CDATA[I Took a Bite from the Apple of Death]]>https://www.kapwing.com/blog/a-bite-from-the-apple-of-death/62ddf575569b6c083f91d961Mon, 25 Jul 2022 05:40:08 GMT

This weekend, I went running with two friends while on vacation in Mexico.

At the north end of town, we found a jungle path that opened onto the beach. As we ran onto the sand, we stepped on lots small round fruits that had fallen onto the trail from a ripe tree overhead.

We were curious what the fruits were so we picked them up and threw them around. My friend John said he thought it was a crabapple, but I disagreed as crabapples feel tough and solid whereas this felt smooth and soft. I peeled the green skin back and tasted a bit of the white flesh. It tasted sweet and tropical, like guava. Meanwhile, my friends took turns throwing the fruits as far as they could on the beach.

I Took a Bite from the Apple of Death
A photo of the tree I found online

We continued our run, and my mouth started feeling a bit peppery and irritated. I told my friends, making jokes about how dumb it was to eat the fruit, in retrospect. They assured me I was probably just thirsty, and we thought nothing of it.

An hour later, sitting on the floor of my hotel room, my mouth was feeling pretty weird and hot, as if I’d eaten a lot of spicy salsa. I started Googling around - “small green tropical fruit Mexico poisonous edible” - until I found listicle with a fruit that exactly matched what I’d eaten.

Introducing the Manchineel

The apple's name is a manchineel. It grow on sandy tropical beaches in the region.

If you Google "manchineel," you’ll immediately see that the manchineel is one of the world's most poisonous plants. It’s commonly referred to as “The Death Apple.” Symptoms include temporary blindness, hives, ulcers, burning and tearing, excruciating pain, and death. Historically, natives used the fruit as a weapon to kill invading Spaniards. There are several first-person accounts online that describe long-term effects and symptoms worsening over many hours.

I Took a Bite from the Apple of Death

I’d bitten into the literal Apple of Death. If I’d taken a larger bite or two, my throat could have swelled up to prevent me from swallowing or breathing. If the juice had squirted into my eyes, it might have blinded me.

I’ve always thought it was fun and daring to eat wild fruits. The day before I’d picked up a delicious wild mango on the same run, so I felt it was fine to try what was probably a crabapple. I’m a risk seeker (I surf, ski, started a company) and love the idea that I could live off the land.

I Took a Bite from the Apple of Death
Photos from my run the previous day, where I'd found some normal mangos

But f**k I was scared and reminded of my own vulnerability reading through those Google results.

What Now?

I called my friend who is an internal medicine doctor in California. She read the same case studies I'd found on Google and was more scared than I was and equally unfamiliar with the toxins, the symptoms, or any treatment. She encouraged me to go to the hospital.

I Took a Bite from the Apple of Death
My conversation with my friend, an Internal Medicine resident at UCSF

Still drenched in sweat from the run, I took a Benadryl, drank a glass of milk to ease the oral irritants, and went with a local to the nearby Sayulita clinic. The doctor checked my vitals, told me not to eat jungle fruits (duh), and said I’d probably be fine in 8 hours. He told me everything was normal except that I had a slight fever; it could be that I was just hot from exercising in the intense heat. There was nothing to do but wait it out.

All day, my friends kept checking on me, worried I was about to keel over. In the end, I didn't experience any other symptoms, and the mouth irritation was gone within 6 hours. My friends who had picked up the fruit felt some irritation in their hands, but that faded too.

After the initial panic, I realized I was going to be fine. The concierge at our hotel reassured me that he knew many people who had worse symptoms from manchineel and recovered fully within a few hours. He said that the poison from the fruit onsets immediately, not gradually, so the worst was likely behind me. Several articles point out that there are no modern fatalities attributed to manchineels, despite its infamy in conquistadors legends. Ultimately, it meant I had less beer and got a few more performance reviews done during my Mexican weekend vacation.

So I survived the Apple of Death.

The Moral Of the Story

Here's the part of the article where I share the moral of the story with you all. Is the moral that you shouldn't trust everything you read on Google? Or that it's worth it to taste a foreign fruit to satiate your curiosity?

Absolutely not. The moral of the story is that you shouldn't eat unknown fruits from the floor of the jungle.

I Took a Bite from the Apple of Death
My dad's accurate summary


Alive, Grateful, and Sometimes an Idiot

I Took a Bite from the Apple of Death
Celebrating life, post death scare

p.s. Subscribe here to the Kapwing blog to read more about the risk I'm taking while growing a business.

<![CDATA[Someone is Impersonating Kapwing in a Recruiting Scam]]>https://www.kapwing.com/blog/is-this-a-recruiting-scam-some-signs/62cee2fa569b6c083f91d7f7Wed, 13 Jul 2022 15:59:02 GMT

My startup was recently the center of an elaborate recruiting scam. If you've recently gotten a gmail address and a "Senior Recruiter" Fathi Saeed, please know that this is not legitimate outreach.

In this article, I wanted to share what the experience was so that other targets know it’s a scam and so that other entrepreneurs know what these scams look like for the future.

What Happened This Time Around

I run a 40 person company called Kapwing based in San Francisco. Currently, the only role we’re actively hiring for is our Software Engineering Manager. However, we were notified by more than 30 people in the last week that someone is impersonating me (the CEO) to offer a video editing job that pays $90/hour.

This recruiting scam targeted people who are video editors. Video editors are also Kapwing users, so it breaks my heart that our potential customers could get burned by this scam  💔.

Step 1: Outreach

The scam starts with a fake email impersonating me, the CEO. The job seeker is told that they've been "shortlisted for a virtual screening/interview." The initial email comes from kapwing.jobsrecruit@gmail.com and is signed with my name. It often has no subject.

Someone is Impersonating Kapwing in a Recruiting Scam

Sometimes, the person submitted an application on a job board.

Phase 2: Written Interview

If the candidate is interested, they’re supposed to reach out to a different gmail address, visualscreeningtext@gmail.com, to schedule an interview with a supposed senior recruiter, Fathi Saeed. Once they reach out, they’ll get a Google Doc with a 20-question interview asking about their experience and background.

Someone is Impersonating Kapwing in a Recruiting Scam
The job interview

One of the people who received this Google Doc shared it with me. The "interview" is 20 questions long. I was surprised to see that it looks pretty legit other than the "Kapwing's Company" header.

Phase 3: Offer Letter

The “applicant” gets a job offer letter PDF, supposedly from our HR department. The email may come from kapwingeditor@outlook.com.

Someone is Impersonating Kapwing in a Recruiting Scam

Once they accept, the job seeker is asked to send bank deposit info to the crooks. Victims might get money taken from their bank account. No one has yet reported money or identity stolen, but of course there would be a delay before they notice.

Someone is Impersonating Kapwing in a Recruiting Scam

How to Tell It’s a Recruiter Scam

tl;dr -- This outreach and interview with Fathi Saeed is not real, and kapwing.jobsrecruit@gmail.com is not a legitimate company email address.

Here are a few signs that show why this recruiter email is suspicious. Any job seeker wondering about a correspondence should question outreach that has these qualities:

  1. The emails come from a gmail address, not the company domain. All Kapwing employees have a @kapwing.com email, so job candidates would not get outreach from us from a gmail address. And you can always find the people who work at Kapwing on LinkedIn.
  2. Asking for money or unnecessary personal info before you’ve signed a contract. We would never ask a candidate to send us bank info over email; we only ask for direct deposit information through our secure HR system (Gusto) after a candidate signs an official job offer.
  3. No open job posting: Check to see if a job posting is open on the company’s job page (with an HTTPS in the header). If not, it may be a scam. When we do recruiting outreach, we generally include the link to the official job posting in the initial email. The only exceptions (where we might do outreach before putting up a public job description) are people management or executive roles.
  4. Offering a job with no video interview. People who come to work at Kapwing will always have a video or phone interview before getting an offer.
Someone is Impersonating Kapwing in a Recruiting Scam

Broken English, typos, no LinkedIn links, and inconsistent information may signal a recruiting scam. For example, in this case, candidates received the “offer letter” with our old company logo in the letterhead instead of the new logo we introduced recently. The offer letter was also signed by a random "Advisor" named Tom Gahm (who actually doesn't exist) rather than the CEO.

Someone is Impersonating Kapwing in a Recruiting Scam

The initial email also had no subject line, and there were some typos throughout. But both of these are mistakes that a scrappy startup could easily make.

Someone is Impersonating Kapwing in a Recruiting Scam

What To Do To Verify the Legitimacy of Recruiter Outreach

As a startup, we do send emails to job seekers sometimes about positions that are open at Kapwing. We also get plenty of third-party recruiters who send us resumes and ask us to pay commission if that candidate is hired. As a result, I know that there's a lot of inbound recruiting communications, and it can be difficult to distinguish the real from the scam.

However, if you get an email about a job that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Listen to your gut if there are warning signals, and be aware of your own vulnerability. Here's two courses of action you can take if you’re concerned that you may be the target of a recruiting scam:

  1. If you're at all suspicious, visit the company’s website and send an email to their corporate email address. Candidates can also ping someone (like a Recruiting or HR lead) from the company on LinkedIn to ask them if the posting is real. Don't be shy – we would never penalize a candidate for asking us about a legitimate job opening. In fact, we would probably appreciate it as a sign of enthusiasm.  
  2. Respond to the supposed recruiter with questions that require a 2-4 sentence response. Legitimate recruiters will be familiar with questions about company culture and the position, but someone with broken English or no affiliation to the company will struggle and may give themselves away. Some questions could be:
  • What is unique about Kapwing’s company culture?
  • What opportunities are there for growth in this role?
  • How does this role serve the company’s mission?
Someone is Impersonating Kapwing in a Recruiting Scam

Why Did We Get Targeted

I’m not sure why these crooks designed an elaborate scheme around Kapwing. One reason may be that we had a video creator position listed online a while ago. Since then, we’ve taken it down, but the evidence of the old job description still appears in various directories and credible job boards online like AngelList.

Video editing is a high-skill task that’s relevant for our business. It’s possible that these scammers run this playbook with video editing positions specifically and thought our company, with a fast growing YouTube channel and a big presence on Google as an online video editor, was a believable fit.

I also had a #hiring frame around my LinkedIn profile.

What To Do if Crooks are Impersonating Your Company

When we found out that scammers were impersonating me and Kapwing, we wanted to act immediately to keep vulnerable job seekers safe from thieves. Unfortunately, we couldn't take much action to report the issue. Here’s how we responded and how we recommend other startups respond if they’re the center of a recruiting scam:

  1. Get back to people when they message/email you! We quickly wrote a canned response for our customer support email and prioritized scam targets to let people know this is not a legitimate opportunity. I responded to every one of the 13 video editors who sent me a LinkedIn message, and we asked each person to report the emails as phishing.
  2. CEOs can post on their LinkedIn profile about the scam and publish a blog post to notify targets that search for these fake email addresses on Google.
  3. Remove the “I’m hiring” frame on LinkedIn (temporarily). Ensure that outdated job postings are removed from live job sites.

How do other companies avoid ending up in this type of scam? And how are you supposed to respond if someone is impersonating you? I wish I had more that I could do to defend video editors who have been targeted.

Someone is Impersonating Kapwing in a Recruiting Scam

I hope that this article helps people who might be targeted by this scheme and avoids theft. Please reach out to us at hello@kapwing.com – a legitimate email on the company domain – with any follow up questions or information! Or subscribe here to our blog to follow the startup journey.

<![CDATA[Making it Easier to Create Together]]>https://www.kapwing.com/blog/making-it-easier-to-create-together/62aa768810cdf20cd8172a0dTue, 28 Jun 2022 17:48:59 GMTGet access

Video is everywhere.

Making it Easier to Create Together

With the push towards video content on every social media platform and the move towards remote work, video has become the most consumed form of media worldwide. We watched 12 billion minutes of video content in 2021 🤯  . 85% of companies rank short-from video as the most effective type of social media content, and Forbes goes so far as to declare that “video is where we need to be,” for both content creators and brands.

Video serves more purpose than just entertainment. People make videos for all types of communication, from marketing products to training colleagues and aligning with teammates.

Making it Easier to Create Together

But creating videos is time-consuming.

Traditional editors – like Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro – are slow, unintuitive and not optimized for creating modern video formats quickly. That’s why for the past five years at Kapwing, we’ve worked to make video creation easier for everyone.

Kapwing started in 2018 as a video meme making platform. The early team continued expanding our editing tools one by one so that we now have a full video, image, and GIF editing studio that over three million people use to create content every month. Regardless of where you live, what device you have access to, or how much video editing experience you have, you can use Kapwing to make videos.

Making it Easier to Create Together

Our founders and product designers benefited from the feedback and encouragement from millions of creators along the way. We also grew a content creation team in-house, producing videos on the latest format and trends while growing an audience on TikTok and YouTube. Along the way, as our editing platform and expertise grew, we noticed something...

Most videos are not created alone.

While we often think of video creation as one or two “video editors” combining clips in an editing software, there’s often a whole team of people with varying skill sets and responsibilities who contribute. Some of these people never actually touch the raw video clips, but give feedback or oversee tasks.

We also noticed collaboration on our own content creation team while dogfooding our own product. For our YouTube channel, multiple people worked together to brainstorm ideas, then share assets like logos, video intro clips, and footage with one another. After creating a first draft, a variety of people (our manager, the CEO) would give feedback and sign off. We'd make more edits, review the final version, then download the latest to post. Sometimes these creation and feedback loops happened multiple times for one video.

Making it Easier to Create Together

Our team’s creative process was inefficient, scattered, and frustrating.

Each stage of the process touched a different platform, including Kapwing, Google Drive, Slack, Notion, Dropbox, Figma, and more. We were constantly downloading and uploading files between all these platforms, hitting file upload limits, and forgetting who had which asset.

Meanwhile, our three-person content team was racing to 100,000 YouTube subscribers. We had weeks of publishing a video every day, which is a huge volume of content to produce, edit, and post. With constraints on both time and quality, we often cut short valuable feedback cycles and collaboration because it took too long with existing tools. It was hard to keep people on the same page, and, at the end of the day, we knew weren’t reaching as many customers as we could with our content.

It’s time to make creative collaboration easier.

We aspire to reach more people with our content by creating as a team faster, and we want to make it possible for other teams to do the same. That’s why we’re building a better Kapwing experience for teams of editors and non-editors alike.

Driven by our own experience and interviews with hundreds of marketers, influencers, and media entrepreneurs, we've designed features that will make it easier to create videos together. Like Google Docs for video editing, Kapwing helps you get more ideas and contributions from non-editing team members, so your whole team can move faster to create. Here’s what what teams will achieve when using these upcoming features in Kapwing:

Keep everyone on the same page

You’ll always stay up-to-date with your team’s progress because everyone’s work is created and stored in one space. The team workspace includes a set of shared folders so your team can organize content and anyone can jump into projects.

Making it Easier to Create Together

Give and receive feedback

It’ll be easier to give and act on feedback with project comments. Whether it’s a high level idea shared early on in the drafting process or the final touches before posting a video, comments are an important part of bringing more voices into the creative process and ensuring that content fits the team’s vision.

Making it Easier to Create Together

Guarantee brand consistency

Keeping your brand consistent across every piece of content is critical, but this gets harder with more people involved. That’s why we’re building Brand Kit. Upload brand colors, fonts, and media for the whole team to use in their projects. Everyone will be using the same assets every time.

Making it Easier to Create Together

Edit together in real time

Sometimes it’s easier for everyone’s creative vision to come to life when you edit simultaneously. Changes made to projects are seen by everyone, so there’s no need to constantly share updated copies. It’s like Google Docs, but for video.

Making it Easier to Create Together

It’s also time to breathe new energy into our brand.

While Kapwing has evolved over the years as a product and editing platform, we’ve made few changes to our visual brand. As we embark on making it easier to create together, we felt this was a prime moment for a new look to emphasize our values of creativity and boldness while welcoming in the next chapter of our work to help creators.

We are delighted to introduce Kapwing’s new branding: our colors, logo, and kitten characters Kit & Bob who star in our illustrations. Read more about these visual changes and how we developed our new look at the blog post below:

Making it Easier to Create Together

So what’s next?

In late September, we did hit the 100k subscriber mark on our YouTube channel, and our community has continued to thrive. Recently, we've started investing in our TikTok channel again and plan to syndicate across Reels, YouTube Shorts, and other platforms.

To power a larger team, we're piloting our new Teams products internally, using comments to give feedback, a shared digital workspace for visibility, and folders to organize projects. As creators ourselves, we're excited to introduce these features to creative teams everywhere and hope that they'll speed up your re-purposing workflows.

Making it Easier to Create Together

Teams features like comments and brand kit are now in Kapwing, try them out at the link below! We’re excited to work with you to shape what a world with collaborative video editing looks like 😸

<![CDATA[Making Kapwing's New Brand]]>https://www.kapwing.com/blog/making-kapwings-new-brand/62bb2e4f569b6c083f91d6c8Tue, 28 Jun 2022 17:42:17 GMT

For the past five years, Kapwing’s team has been dedicated to building a creative platform that allows people to create and repurpose content directly in their browser. They’ve released dozens of AI-powered tools to streamline the modern creation process, grown a dedicated worldwide following (including past users like Snoop Dogg!), and recently hit a milestone of serving 10 million registered creators. But as their product has evolved and grown, they realized that it was time to bring the company’s visual branding up to speed.

Making Kapwing's New Brand

Enter yours truly.

I joined Kapwing four months ago as its first Brand Designer. I’m a graphic designer and visual artist by trade, but I’ve always had a huge side passion for film myself — and so it was a dream come true for me to work on building a design system from the ground up for a startup meant to serve other creatives. From the moment I joined, I couldn’t wait to explore the possibilities of where we could take our branding.

So here’s where we took it.

The foundations of a new start

Making Kapwing's New Brand

When I first joined, what excited me about Kapwing’s original branding was that it already had a lot of existing character – in fact, it was the purple cat logo that first attracted me to apply to the company. In a market saturated with countless tech startups, having such an approachable (and frankly, cute) character front and center got me curious about what Kapwing had to offer. And so when I joined the team and was given the task of revamping our visual identity, I knew I wanted to elevate our look while still preserving and enhancing the qualities that make us unique.

That said, I still wanted to do a pretty major upheaval. Our old branding was functional but had a lot of room for improvement. My main critiques were that:

  • Our visual system was inconsistent from channel to channel — there wasn’t one cohesive look and feel that unified everything together, meaning our branding wasn’t as impactful as it could be. The posts we made on Instagram looked different from our YouTube thumbnails, which looked different from our website. In developing a new design system, I wanted us to move forward with a consistent visual language that our audiences could recognize immediately as Kapwing.
  • Our old logo and color palette didn’t feel very intentional. The cat logo didn’t visually communicate our company values or what our product does — and some people even mistook the cat for an owl. Our brand color palette also wasn’t implemented very consistently. Hex codes differed, random non-branded colors were thrown into assets, and our primary Kapwing purple was hard to work with.
  • And finally, a lot of our old design elements looked a bit dated or generally lacked visual polish. Before I joined Kapwing, all of our visual assets were created by engineers or marketers. The team did a good job with the resources they had at their disposal, but it was hard for them to put together graphics that were compelling in the same way that companies with dedicated design teams could.

Overall, our old branding didn’t quite align with our main messaging pillars of championing modernity and creativity. In the four months that I’ve been here, I’ve worked to give the company a brand new look that’ll better represent both who we are and the community of creators we set out to serve.

I’d like to introduce to you the new face of Kapwing. We’re taking our branding to the next level by making it bolder, more exciting, and more professional. And this is just the start.

Making Kapwing's New Brand

As we’ve grown our user base and showed the market that we’re a powerful, world-class product, I felt that it was important for us to move away from our old cat logo. It was time for something more abstract and sophisticated, so I developed a new logo inspired by our studio timeline.

Our refreshed logo incorporates the three primary colors of our updated brand palette, which are a departure from the old Kapwing purple. It also remedies the main issue with our cat logo, which felt too removed from what we do as a company. This abstracted timeline shape carries with it a more immediate connection to video editing, so it better visually communicates what our product is from a glance. Our new logo is sleek, elegant, and better represents Kapwing as the modern content creation platform that it is.

Goodbye purple, hello cyan

Making Kapwing's New Brand

A good color palette is one of the mainstays of meaningful (and recognizable) branding. Colors help to set the tone for a company and communicate its core values. I wanted Kapwing to have a palette that would set us apart from the rest of the market: something saturated, exciting, and eye catching. But I also wanted our brand palette to directly tie into our product as an image and video repurposing platform.

Making Kapwing's New Brand

Our three primary colors were inspired by the CMYK color palette. I wanted our new brand to have primary brand colors that represented the foundations of creativity — the idea being that you can mix the CMYK swatches together to create any other color, just like creators can use our tools and platform to serve their needs and carry out their own creative visions.

The RGB color palette could’ve also fit this meaning, but I was immediately drawn towards the CMYK palette instead because it was less conventional. Plenty of other companies use RGB in their branding and logos, and I wanted primary colors that people could instantly recognize in the creative field, but would still resonate as being uniquely Kapwing.

Making Kapwing's New Brand

The rest of our color palette is an homage to the classic TV calibration screen. This pattern used to air between screenings of programs on cable TV before there was content being broadcasted 24/7, so these colors are symbolic of the idea that we’re waiting for our users to create content of their own. It also further reinforces our connection to the art of filmmaking and the video medium, which I wanted to infuse into all aspects of our branding.

Kit’s out of the bag

Making Kapwing's New Brand

Although the purple cat is stepping down from being our logo, I wanted to keep cats at the heart of Kapwing as our company mascots. We’ve received an outpouring of positive feedback about our kittens over the years, and we were even gifted a hand-crocheted Kapwing cat once (which is still proudly on display in our San Francisco office). Clearly, the cats are something that have always set us apart in terms of uniqueness and likability.

I’m excited to introduce our new Kapwing mascots: Kitten and Bobtail (or Kit and Bob, for short). Their designs build off of our original logo, adapting its familiar silhouette into two different cats: a tabby and a calico. But while our old cat was stylized to only have eyes and a large triangular nose, causing many people to confuse it with an owl, our new mascots are stylized with eyes and mouths to avoid that misconception in the future. Their faces are meant to also invoke the classic :3 emoticon, which has always been prominent in early internet and meme culture.

A photo’s worth a thousand edits

Making Kapwing's New Brand

Photo portraiture offers a great way to spotlight our team and our amazing Kapwing community. But photography can also get tricky from a branding perspective because of the lack of consistency from photo to photo. As a small startup, a lot of our photos are spur-of-the-moment phone pics or images sourced from our worldwide community of Kapwing creators, so there’s a great deal of variation in terms of the portraits’ backgrounds and color grading.

Our new photo approach consists of cropping out and desaturating the subjects to ensure that the photography treatments look consistent regardless. Including abstract shapes in the background helps to add in visual interest, to tie together all our photos as one cohesive system, and to bring in our color palette and even further connect it with our brand.

Video production, in motion

Making Kapwing's New Brand

Moving forward, animations are going to be a major cornerstone of our new branding and how we visually communicate with our audiences on our website and across different social media channels. They highlight the powerful and collaborative features our studio has to offer, so people are now able to actually visualize the things they can do in Kapwing — and let’s face it, seeing things in action is so much more impactful and inspiring than seeing a static screenshot.

These product visualizations are also abstracted enough so that any potentially distracting elements are eliminated. The Kapwing studio and workspaces will look streamlined in our animations so that new users aren’t overwhelmed and people can instead focus on the features we’re showcasing.

Illustrating our values

Making Kapwing's New Brand

Although we now have a robust library of Kit and Bob vector illustrations, I also wanted to flesh out a collection of hand-drawn icons to use on our website. These will be used more sparingly, mostly as supplemental visuals to accompany the copy in bulleted lists and charts. One of Kapwing’s core values is authenticity, and I’ve always felt that there was something uniquely authentic and approachable about hand-drawn illustrations, so I definitely wanted to make space for that medium in our new branding as well. Whether it’s these icons or larger standalone pieces you might spot on our website and merch, illustrations will always have a welcome place in our visual language.

Upping our social game

Making Kapwing's New Brand

Individual thumbnails may only be a few pixels large, but together they can paint a larger picture of our visual identity on social media platforms. Over the past few months, making thumbnails for our YouTube channel was a great exercise for our new branding since they’re relatively low risk and allow for a great deal of visual experimentation. Kapwing’s social posts are driving home our bolder, cleaner, more exciting approach, and they’ll adhere to this consistent design system from here on out.

Kapwing.com 2.0

Making Kapwing's New Brand

Last but most certainly not least, we redesigned our entire website to reflect the spirit of our new branding. All of our new pages are infused with the refreshed Kapwing color palette and graphic treatments I’ve covered in this article, capturing the vibrancy and playfulness of our brand. Our new homepage also utilizes custom animations to better represent our product features, and this added sense of motion makes it a lot more visually engaging for our audience.

Onwards and upwards

Making Kapwing's New Brand

Kapwing has helped millions of creators tell their stories, and now it’s time for us to tell our story more boldly and authentically than ever before.

I’m thrilled and honored that I got to develop a new visual system that will help Kapwing better express our values and who were are as a company. We’re the same great platform, just with a brand new look — and we’re excited to continue on our mission to help creators around the world make great content. Check out our new website using the button below, and be sure to also stop by our YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter!