Caffeine, a live social-broadcasting startup, has hired two senior executives: former Apple TV executive Jen Folse as VP of product and Michelle Wagner, previously head of HR at Evernote, as senior VP of people and places.
Caffeine was founded in April 2016 by former Apple TV designers Ben Keighran and Sam Roberts. The startup has raised $46 million in funding led by Silicon Valley VC firms Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners. The company is angling to take on other live-streaming services including Amazon’s Twitch, YouTube and Facebook.
Folse spent more than eight years at Apple, most recently served as design lead for Apple TV, a position she held since 2016. She first joined Apple as a senior design producer in May 2010, after working as an engineer for both Finesse Solutions and Genentech.
“I worked with Jen for years at Apple,” Keighran, CEO of Caffeine, said in a statement. “She is a phenomenal product-design leader and executor and I look forward to working with her as we grow the Caffeine platform.”
According to Folse, she had “every intention of staying at Apple for a long time” but was enticed by the Caffeine founders’ vision. “I felt like I was looking at a new and exciting way for people to discover and consume live content, and knew I could make an impact leading the product experience,” Folse said in a statement.
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Wagner, previously SVP of people at note-taking app developer Evernote, has joined Caffeine to oversee human resources, IT and facilities management. She has over 20 years of HR management experience, having held leadership positions at companies including AOL and Ooyala.
Caffeine (caffeine.tv) is currently running in a beta trial; the company expects to launch publicly in 2019. Caffeine’s live-broadcasting system features a “fair, ad-free monetization system” that is designed to provide incentives broadcasters to engage in the platform. In its real-time chat feature, Caffeine gives preference to conversations between friends and broadcasters which allows for “more meaningful social engagements while disposing of toxic chatter and endless feeds of meaningless comments,” according to the company.