The One Thing You Should Know About Ukraine

A First-Hand Account of Russia’s War on Ukraine from a latakoo Team Member;

Vova and his wife were both born and raised in Ukraine.

Moving swiftly to the underground parking garage when the dreaded sirens go off outside their apartment has become the norm for one of our team members and his wife who live in Ukraine. Vova, who has been a software engineer with latakoo for the last 7 years, lives in the Western part of the country that is currently under attack by Russia. He said the sirens, meant to warn anyone within earshot of potential threats, have been going off about four times a day. In fact, he had to abruptly jump off the Zoom call during our weekly latakoo team meeting last week. We were all wearing colors of the Ukrainian flag that day, and had changed our virtual backgrounds to show our support.

“That’s why I left the meeting because of the alert system sirens,” said Vova. “It means that something like a flying object enters our region.”

Vova, 29, said the scariest moment so far was when the Russians flew a drone into the region. It was thankfully defused by the Ukrainian air defense system. He and his wife are sleeping in two hour shifts to ensure they don’t sleep through a warning siren. When the sirens do blare, they take refuge in their concrete parking garage. Vova said each time they go, they grab a backpack sitting by the door that they’ve filled with snacks and toiletries because they never know how long they’ll be stuck in the shelter. Their car is parked in the garage and provides a more comfortable place for them to sit or sleep. Not everyone in the shelter has a car, so Vova and his neighbors brought in folding chairs so no one has to sit on the cold, hard surface. They’ve also added a shelf to keep food items that don’t require preparation, and a portable toilet for the group to use.

      
Vova said he and his wife are nervous and extremely angry about the situation their country is in.

“I feel anger in terms of Russians and I feel anger because I can’t do anything except for volunteering,” said Vova. “You can only do what you can do from where you are.”

Instead of worrying about themselves, Vova and his wife have been focusing on the safety of others. As refugees from Eastern Ukraine flood into their city, they’re helping coordinate places for them to live and are donating clothing and other necessary items.  They’ve made trips to drug stores to search for vital medications refugees are requesting, but Vova said finding it has been a big challenge because most drug stores are closed, or the shelves are empty.

Leaving their home is also difficult and scary. Authorities are instructing people to stay indoors between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. When they do get out, it’s only to go to the market to buy necessities. Gas stations are out of gas, so driving anywhere is no longer an option. Vova said there are police everywhere in his neighborhood. Citizens are required to stop and show documentation and passports if they do need to leave the city.

Vova, who’s a BMW car enthusiast, has been staying on top of what’s happening across the country through an online community he was already a part of. The group, which typically chats and bonds over their car obsession, is made up of Ukrainians who live in various cities all over the country. People are constantly posting pictures and videos to keep each other informed about what’s happening where they live.

Those living in Kyiv, the capital and most populated city in Ukraine which is under siege, said they’ve had to sit in shelters anywhere from 11 to 18 hours at a time.

“One of them said a man went out just to buy food for his pregnant wife and was shot right at the entrance of their parking lot,” said Vova.

Getting his mind off the horrible events happening to his homeland is nearly impossible, but Vova said being able to continue working from home through this war and developing new technologies for latakoo has helped him de-stress and takes his mind off of what’s going on around him. He knows his work is also vital to journalists covering the war in his homeland. Vova is also an extremely talented musician, and has been known to show off those skills to our latakoo team and clients. In 2020, he put his own latakoo spin on the Beatles hit “Let It Be” and played a portion of “Jingle Bells” with his electric guitar for our 2021 holiday video.

 
The latakoo team is in constant communication with Vova via Zoom and Skype. Everyone keeps asking Vova, “How can we help? What can we do?” He said the best thing is to know where Ukraine is located.

“Before this, the hardest part was that everyone saw Ukraine as part of Russia,” said Vova. “We are always trying to say we’re not Russians – we’re completely different.”

Vova finds some solace in the fact that he is also helping journalists tell the stories of Ukrainians by using latakoo, the service that he helps to support. 

We will continue to keep you updated on Vova’s situation and pass any information along he feels is important to share. If you’re looking for ways to help, Vova recommended these two donation organizations: Come Back Alive and Humanitarian Assistance.

Celebrating the Women of latakoo

In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we want to recognize the six incredible women on our latakoo team who make a difference each and every day. These women are true leaders – overcoming obstacles, challenging the status quo and serving as role models for the next generation of women in tech. Get to know them here. 

 

Jade Kurian

Co-Founder and President

How long have you been at latakoo?

Paul Adrian and I co-founded latakoo in 2010. I have run operations for the company as President since then.

Where are you located? 

Austin, Texas.

What do you enjoy most about working at latakoo? 

I love what we do, the solutions we provide, the people and groups we serve and how we interact and collaborate as a team. We provide a much needed and widely embraced solution for content providers, especially journalists. I believe good journalism is at the heart of creating good communities and great democracies. And our customers are the reason we exist. They work with us as we test user interface and functionalities, giving us nuggets of wisdom on their workflows and needs. Our team is a mix of people from around the world, all with unique understandings of humanity and technology, but each one contributes in respectful and meaningful ways to find new solutions. I couldn’t love my work as much if I didn’t have this team that always wants to do their best, always responds and always shows compassion and kindness to each other and our customers.

What does it mean for you to be a woman in tech?

My whole life, I have been in rooms where the female to male ratio of employees was drastically unbalanced. I still show up to meetings where I am the only woman on the call. I don’t think that being a woman in tech is all that different than being a woman in many other industries. Women represent about half the workforce in America and about 25% of the technology workforce. Most women, especially minority women, must work harder and fight for a seat at the table. Any time one woman joins a tech company, being paid the same as a male worker in the same role, it helps the whole. 

I’m a realistic optimist or practical optimist. I would say things are getting better. There are quite a few encouraging indicators. More girls are getting into computer science and science at younger ages. More women are graduating with degrees in technical fields. Funding for female-led companies is beginning to pick up, although it’s not anywhere near the level it should be, and it does not compare to male-led companies. NASDAQ’s minimum diversity requirement will be helpful in encouraging companies to add women and minorities to the board.

What are you most proud of as a woman? 

I’m proud of this company and the people that continue to build it with me. I enjoy working hard, even if I had to work harder to have a voice. Because I accept that things are not set up to be fair, I operate with the mantra that nobody is coming to save me or help me; I must help myself.  I’m proud that I’ve been able to figure it out and come out on the other side with some strength and resilience. 

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?

I was born into a home with no running water or electricity. As a child, I regularly bathed in a river or showered outside. When I first felt hot water from a shower, I was shocked.  Now, I take ice baths and cold showers for workout recovery, and I feel quite comfortable in the cold water.  My trainer also says that of all his clients (men and women), I scored the best time for “the 300,” a workout that includes a heavy number of burpees. I’m sort of proud of that!

Name someone who’s been a role model or inspiration in your life. 

I am inspired by people who get things done. I am in awe of the doers. We’ve all seen them. They just plow through, no complaining or a little complaining and a lot of doing, no matter what happens. From Mahatma Gandhi to MLK to my mother, who immigrated to the US as a nurse, leaving everything she knew for a new life and then, built that life. I am also fiercely inspired by those who protect animals and our environment. I am a vegan, and I am really inspired by vegan athletes. For so long, there was this idea that to be a great athlete, you had to eat meat. There are so many incredible athletes who are disproving that, including Rich Roll. I listen to Rich’s podcasts and nearly all of them are inspiring in some way. We can have rich lives and healthier bodies, improve our environment and reduce global warming by not eating animals.

 

Erica Woods

Account Executive & Customer Success

How long have you been at latakoo? 

I’ve been at latakoo for two months, but seven years in the tech/start-up world altogether.

Where are you located? 

I currently live in Canada but also live in Arizona.

What do you enjoy most about working at latakoo?

The people and the culture of the company.

What does it mean for you to be a woman in tech?

It means that I get to contribute – in a modern way – to create seats for women who will come after me at the table that was built by women before me.

What are you most proud of as a woman?

I’m really proud to be a woman whose goal is always to raise up women, to offer support and to cheer in our collective victories!

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you? 

Two things: I used to be a janitor in high school, and I used to drive a city bus.

Name someone who’s been a role model or inspiration in your life. 

It’s difficult to name one person. I find that I am lucky enough to have found myself surrounded by many friends, family and colleagues who I admire because of their strength, courage, kindness and wisdom.

 

Carolina Subotovsky

UI/UX Designer

How long have you been at latakoo? 

I have been at latakoo for a year and a half.

Where are you located? 

I am in Florianópolis, Brazil.

What do you enjoy most about working at latakoo? 

The challenges of building products to aid people with their jobs

What does it mean for you to be a woman in tech?

It means that we can do whatever jobs we want to do (even those that were originally ruled by men).

What are you most proud of as a woman? 

Not just as a woman, but as a human being: being strong, independent and determined.

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you? 

I participated in a contest for teenagers building a space colony.

Name someone who’s been a role model or inspiration in your life. 

My aunt. She traveled a lot by herself, defying all preconceptions.

 

Ryan Emmons

Customer Success Director and Chief Designer

How long have you been at latakoo? 

I’ve been at latakoo for 8 and 1/2 years. (I can’t believe it’s been this long!)

Where are you located? 

I live in Austin, Texas.

What do you enjoy most about working at latakoo? 

I never get bored.

What does it mean for you to be a woman in tech?

I love working for a company that prioritizes women and equality. To me it means shattering all the standards that came before, so hopefully the next generation doesn’t even have to think twice about working in a once male-dominated field.

What are you most proud of as a woman? 

I’m very proud of my work ethic and how much I’ve grown over the years. I started as a preschool teacher with a studio art degree and have worked my way to a great position at an amazing tech company.

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you? 

Most people are surprised to learn that I am a woman because of my name. If I had a dollar for every time I got called sir via email…

Name someone who’s been a role model or inspiration in your life. 

My family. I come from a long line of very tough, hard-working women who have always inspired me to try and be as badass and giving as they were.

 

Greta Yastrzemski

Executive Assistant & Customer Success Associate

How long have you been at latakoo? 

I’ve been at latakoo for over two years now.

Where are you located? 

I am located in Florida.

What do you enjoy most about working at latakoo? 

The people!  Also, there’s never a dull moment! Each day gives me a chance to stretch and grow.

What does it mean for you to be a woman in tech?

That there are no limits to what you can achieve.

What are you most proud of as a woman?
That I’ve been able to re-enter the workforce after being a stay-at-home mother to twin boys for over 13 years.

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
My previous career was as a hair designer.

Name someone who’s been a role model or inspiration in your life. 

It is impossible for me to single out just one person – my family, my friends, different people with whom I’ve worked, as well as currently. They each in their own way have inspired me to become a better sister, daughter, friend, mother and coworker. I’m lucky to have such amazing people in my life and forever grateful for each of them.

 

Erin Cargile

Director of Content and Training

How long have you been at latakoo? 

I’ve been at latakoo for nine months.

Where are you located? 

I live in Austin, Texas.

What do you enjoy most about working at latakoo? 

The people we work with — this includes my coworkers and our thousands of customers. Both are extremely driven, gifted at what they do and work amazingly well together to achieve the same goal: continuously improve video workflows. And I will never get over the amazing view overlooking Lady Bird Lake and downtown Austin from our office.

What does it mean for you to be a woman in tech?

I always laugh when I hear this because I was a local news reporter for 17 years before joining latakoo. I am the least tech-savvy person I know, but part of my job is to train users on our technology who are just like me. What I am good at is communicating and breaking things down in a way that’s easy to understand. I also used latakoo as a journalist before joining the company. So, to me, being a woman in tech means embracing what you think you don’t know or aren’t good at and being confident in the skills and experience you bring to the table.

What are you most proud of as a woman? 

Surviving childbirth! And not being afraid to speak up in a positive way last year when I felt like the company I worked for at the time should be offering a better parental leave policy for its employees that was more in line with benefits other comparable companies were offering. It was actually on International Women’s Day last year when I was home on maternity leave and sitting there holding my new baby boy when I thought: I can’t just keep complaining to my friends about it – I have to say something to those who have the power to change it. Seeing other social media posts from strong women that morning gave me the guts to say this is not ok and I hope we can work to change it. Once I voiced my thoughts, other employees reached out to me and wanted to share their stories and do whatever they could to help lobby for a new policy. A few months later the company announced it would be improving its parental leave policy for all employees starting in 2022. I also did a TEDx Talk a couple of years ago on the power of being told “no,” and how when I think this is going to be the answer or someone flat out tells me “no,” that it usually lights a fire under me and serves as motivation to keep working toward a “yes.” That reaction has served me well in life.

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you? 

I was a competitive gymnast as a child and can still do a back handspring. That’s not to say I can move very well the next day after doing it, but muscle memory is incredible!

Name someone who’s been a role model or inspiration in your life. 

Many people have inspired me for many different reasons over the course of my life including Jade, who is an incredible mentor, role model and leader here at latakoo and who does it all with grace. I would have to say my mother and grandmother rubbed off on me the most and made me the person I am today. They’ve taught me to be extremely driven and hard-working, to never settle for mediocre and are incredibly humble, kind and gracious. They’ve always instilled in me women can do anything, and usually do it better.

 

We are grateful for everything these women do for latakoo. Join us in celebrating these women for Women’s History Month. 

If You’re Not Using Pilot NextGen, You’re Missing Out

You know the feeling when you go to the grocery store and they’ve rearranged the aisles? You’re immediately annoyed because now the quick trip isn’t going to be so quick anymore as you struggle to learn the new layout. Why is it so hard to find a loaf of bread?! But with each shopping trip you get a little more comfortable, and can’t seem to recall how things were before. The reasons behind the changes become more clear as you discover new items the store was making room for with the new design. The end goal was to create more options and a better experience for customers.

While latakoo Pilot isn’t exactly a grocery store, it is the spot multimedia teams depend on around the clock to get the files they need. It’s the magical place in the cloud where our community of content creators view, download and share videos, pictures and audio uploaded through latakoo. As our technology and offerings evolve, a new Pilot was needed to grow along with it. October 13, 2021 was an exciting day, to say the least, as we rolled out the new and improved Pilot NextGen to our users.

 

 

What Changed?

The before and after is drastic. Not only did the new site get a visual makeover, but the updated Pilot is packed full of new features and functionality that our team thoughtfully designed based on feedback from real users who drive everything we do at latakoo. Turning on the new Pilot for everyone was as simple as the click of a button, but the transformation was years in the making. 

Some of the biggest upgrades include new options that allow users to personalize their Pilot. You can create a custom list of Selected Networks that you access the most, eliminating extra time spent scrolling through a long list of choices. Click on the video below to see how.


The all new List View displays files more like a spreadsheet and is also fully customizable to fit your workflow. The added Bulk Action buttons enable users to delete, download, move and copy multiple files at once. There’s also the noticeably larger and smarter video player that offers a much better viewing experience.
Click here to view the new Pilot Basic Guide.


Post-Release Fixes & Enhancements

Pilot NexGen has now been out for testing for a full month, and we want to thank you for communicating issues you’ve found as you use the new system. Our team has been working diligently to push fixes.

Here’s what our team has resolved to date:

  • Improved search results
  • Sharing links (direct and embed)
  • Saving, moving and copying metadata
  • No more % in downloaded file names
  • MPEG2 transcodes


These are the improvements coming soon: 

  • Ability to rename files
  • Audio file thumbnail in certain web browsers
  • Group upload file names
  • Ability to download individual elements from a group
  • Isolate individual audio tracks


Valuable user feedback has already led to Pilot enhancements. A client asked if it was possible to add a progress bar so they could track the status of files through the entire latakoo system — letting them know the second a file is uploaded to the moment it’s landed in their asset management system. The short answer was: YES! Our team at latakoo has always had access to this data behind the hood, but producing that data in a way that you could easily digest it required quite a bit of designing and building. We are happy to report it’s now available to users through the new File Tracking feature built into Pilot. Similar to a FEDEX or UPS package tracker, with our Flight Tracker, you get to see the arrival points and times for your file.

 


When will Classic Pilot go away?

At your grocery store, changes are usually made with zero heads up or adjustment period for shoppers. At latakoo, we wanted our users to ease into this new territory at their own speed, and be able to go back to the old system as needed. That’s why, when Pilot NextGen became the default, we put the “Back to Classic Pilot” button right at the top for users to click on any time and go back to what they were comfortable with.

Our hope is that you’ve started living in the new Pilot full-time. If not, give it a try! Once our team tackles the list of improvements above, Classic will go away and NextGen will become the main Pilot. The important thing to remember is that Pilot NextGen is running on the latest technology with an optimized database, allowing for more speed and flexibility. We will be sure and communicate to you with plenty of notice as Classic Pilot is retired. You can look forward to more updates as we continue to provide the tools and technology to simplify your workflows. 

latakoo COVID success story

From our office in downtown Austin, Texas, there is a clear and often meditative view of the popular Lady Bird Lake and Trail, where on most days, you find hundreds of people enjoying the water or the trail. As Covid-19 began to permeate into Texas, it was like a valve suddenly shut off — the people disappeared. State and local governments issued lockdown orders. We sent our employees home. Our clients cleared out their newsrooms, production facilities and studios. Journalists began reporting from their living rooms instead of broadcast centers. Todd Bynum, KXAN-TV’s Chief Photographer told me, “We made sure laptops had the latakoo app installed, then handed them out to our crews and said, ‘you’re not coming back here for a few months, use latakoo to send us your stories, latakoo will be your friend.”

latakoo is a native cloud company celebrating our 10th anniversary this month. Our clients are some of the world’s largest broadcasters. Their staffers were already comfortable using latakoo to transfer files quickly and securely from around the world. As the pandemic set in, they began to count on us more than ever.

What we saw in the wake of the shutdowns was unprecedented usage by current clients – with uploads from users growing 172% year-over-year in just one month. In the case of one major broadcast client, users from one of its divisions, uploaded an explosive 1800% more minutes of video than in May 2019. latakoo’s cloud offers a platform for collaboration, downloading and viewing. One client streamed nearly 150,000 minutes of video in a single month, up an incredible 8,000% over the same month last year.

“We had been using latakoo as a one-way street prior to the coronavirus pandemic, taking files from the field, to the cloud, to the asset manager,” said Rick Erbach, News Director of WGNO, in New Orleans, Louisiana during a webinar in April. “Now we’ve turned it into a two-way street. MMJs will say,  ‘I need this video or that video.’ And so what we are doing now is putting that video up to the latakoo cloud so they can bring it down to their desktop at their home.” Erbach says latakoo has been a “newscast saver” during the pandemic.

As we were scaling our service and adapting to the demands of increased traffic, clients started asking to use latakoo to enable novel remote workflows. We have always nurtured a very collaborative relationship with our clients. I was not surprised when they called us with questions like, “What if we used latakoo to record live feeds coming in from press conferences?” 

We responded with rapid innovation. We set up workflows to create files from live streams, enabled cloud editing in beta and launched a unique disaster recovery workflow. And, our team pushed out a new service called Manifest to help teams discover, follow and request stories – ensuring delivery to multiple locations. Manifest integrates with AP’s ENPS and literally helps news teams manage stories from birth to broadcast.

The question that always comes up, “Did you already have a plan in place?” We did have an emergency response plan, but if we’re all being honest, we have to admit that we had never faced a pandemic. It’s like a breaking news story where the facts as you know it will change in an hour, in a day, in a month. You are forced to operate with only the here and now. Our marketing efforts, which included two major conferences, had to be shuffled as NAB and IBC cancelled shows. We’re sponsoring and producing more webinars and using public relations teams in Europe and the U.S. to supplement marketing. 

My heart sinks and I feel pangs of guilt when I hear about companies that have shuttered. We are growing and adding staff. I remember the days when buyers were skeptical about “cloud” solutions. Now people are pandemic-proofing by using cloud companies. We don’t know for sure how it will all shake out, but we believe the way to continued growth is to listen carefully to our clients, intelligently and efficiently build what they will use, pivot as needed and continuously be ready for change. 

Our view is back, hundreds of people once again in the lake and trail here, but as the pandemic rages on, it’s clear that nothing will ever be the same.