Customer Spotlight: Choose Digital

Written by: Heidi Gilmore
5 min read
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At CloudBees, we have a lot of innovative customers. They’ve established leadership positions in the marketplace with their great ideas, hard work and a little help from the CloudBees Continuous Delivery Platform.

This blog is the first of several that we will run from time-to-time, highlighting various CloudBees customers. In this first post, we head to Miami to visit Mario Cruz, co-founder and CTO of Choose Digital (recently acquired by Viggle ).

Mario, tell us about yourself.
I’m a technologist, born in Cuba and now living in the Miami area. I've now been developing and marketing B2B and B2C technology solutions for over 20 years.

Tell us about Choose Digital.
We developed a private-label digital marketplace that has enabled companies to launch a digital content strategy incorporating the latest in music, movies, TV shows, eBooks and audiobooks. SkyMall, Marriott, United Airlines and others have tapped into our platform to up-level initiatives such as customer loyalty programs, promotional offers, affinity sales channels and digital retail roll-outs. We’ve had great success providing a streamlined channel, helping companies navigate around licensing conflicts, reduce brand friction and take control of usage data. We’ve also provided solutions for musicians and authors to market their work directly to fans and monetize their social media followings.

What did you do before you started Choose Digital?
I’ve had a bunch of jobs in the technology space. I spent three years as CTO of Grass Roots America, a provider of global performance improvement solutions for employee, channel and consumers. I oversaw the business’s technology, infrastructure and information security in the Americas region. Before that I worked for five years as CIO of Rewards Network, operator of loyalty dining programs in the U.S. for most major airlines, hotels and credit card companies.

What kinds of challenges did you face at Choose Digital that spurred you to start working with CloudBees?
We felt we had to be the first to market and we dedicated all our resources to this goal. We didn’t have time for long development and integration cycles. We didn’t want to worry about setting up and maintaining a Java infrastructure, so we adopted Jenkins in the cloud - the CloudBees’ cloud platform. We were up and running with DEV@cloud in just one day. And using CloudBees’ ClickStarts we were able to set up new projects in about an hour. If we had to set up our own hardware or use a IaaS solution, development would have taken three to five times as long, and costs would have been multiplied by a factor of 10 to 15.

Can you talk about your experience with Continuous Delivery, using CloudBees’ technology?
Using a continuous delivery model, we’re able to experiment cheaply and quickly, with low risk. We’re able to run every step of the process in a streamlined manner. Every update kicks off a series of tests, and once the tests pass, the update deploys to production. Everything is automated using Jenkins and deployed to CloudBees. Rather than wait for new versions, we can constantly push, build in improvements and be confident that production will never be more than a couple of hours behind. This gives us control over our development process and instills a certain amount of trust within the staff that projects we undertake will get done on time, on budget and with the quality that we need.

Your business is all about helping companies make strategic use of digital content. What do you like to listen to, read and watch in your spare time?
I’m in the right profession because I’m a huge consumer of content myself – all kinds.

My favorite book is probably “Bluebeard,” by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s about an abstract impressionist painter who, in typical Vonnegut form, has some eccentric ideas about how to create and promote art. The first movie I ever saw was “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It made me want to travel the world, and luckily my technology career has allowed me to do that. Going way back, my first 45 record was “Freeze Frame” by the J. Geils Band and my first album was “Ghost in the Machine” by the Police.

I’m still a big music guy. I play drums in a band called Switch, which plays all kinds of music, from the Doobie Brothers to Four Non Blondes. I used to be in a bunch of other bands called The Pull, Premonition and Wisdom of Crocodiles. (To see/hear Mario playing the drums in his band, go to this post by Mario.)

So, what’s next for you?
After Choose Digital being acquired by Viggle my goal is to make sure Viggle members get the best media rewards for doing things they love to do – like watching TV and listening to music - while continuing to innovate on our platform.

Read the case study about Mario and his team at Choose Digital
Follow Mario on Twitter: @mariocruz

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