Women of Tech 2016 | Kathy Weidman: Metadata Maven

Kathy Weidman loves metadata. She’s loved metadata for as long as she can remember, in fact, and almost fastidiously planned her 30-plus year career around it — including her move to Rovi (now TiVo) two years ago. It all started in the post-production landscape, working for Avid, where she saw how inextricably data is wound into production workflows. It struck her as the pipeline for content discovery.

These days, Weidman is mapping out TiVo’s development of what she calls “super-powered metadata,” which blends its “knowledge graph” with machine learning, to make metadata more searchable, semantic, and relevant. She’s a frequent speaker at industry events — she opened a “Metadata Madness” conference earlier this year — and says that a goal is to spend more time as an industry spokesperson on the topic of … you guessed it … metadata. She spoke about her role in technology with Multichannel News contributor Leslie Ellis.

More WoT: Weidman is one of five execs selected for MCN's 2016 Women of Tech list; read about the others in Setting the Pace for Innovation [subscription required] and watch for a daily profile of each Sept. 26-30at multichannel.com/WomenOfTech.

MCN: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Kathy Weidman: A psychologist, at first, and then an economist. I studied both in college, as well as English. It turned out to be great training for the world of media, which is somewhere in between.

MCN: First job?

KW: First jobs were babysitting and waitressing, starting when I was 15. First job in cable was RedBee (now Ericsson), in Europe. I was managing director for content discovery — I managed the content discovery business including metadata and search and recommendations.

MCN: What’s on top of your to-do list these days?

KW: Right now, I’m working on a five-year plan about the future of metadata. It’s not what people think it is. The world will change. We have to change, to grow. Metadata will be virtual, with machine learning concepts. That’s really high on my list.

MCN: When and where are you happiest?

KW: When I’m with my family, especially my kids and husband. I also came from a family of five (siblings), and we’re still best friends. This may sound corny, but, I’m also really happy when I’m working. I love doing what I do.

MCN: Most important quality for women in tech to possess?

KW: I do think you have to be tough. By that I mean fortitude and determination and passion. I think it’s also important to understand people and what motivates them. If you have a team of people who are happy doing what they’re doing, and love coming to work, you get 120% from them. So, develop a team that’s really passionate.

MCN: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

KW: You’ll laugh, but I watch TV guides. I’m always looking for new ideas and thoughts. My husband complains, “Are we ever going to actually watch anything, or just look at the guide?” I also love to read, write, walk, and spend time with family [two sons and a daughter] doing high-energy things … we are passionate about life in general, and like to be active.

MCN: Best or worst advice you’ve ever received?

KW: Worst was, very early on, someone told me that I should use my “womanhood” to get ahead. I ignored it. Best was from my dad, who was a big believer in having fun at work. I take it to heart. We work super-hard here, but we play, too. Someday remind me to tell you about the April Fools’ joke we pulled off this year.

MCN: Favorite book of all time?

KW:Grapes of Wrath, hands down. That said, I used to collect and sell rare books. One day, I got an order (online) for a rare book about [Abraham] Lincoln, and saw that it was a local address. I called and offered to drop it off. Turns out it was one of my favorite authors who had bought it — Doris Kearns Goodwin. She was researching for what turned out to be Lincoln: Team of Rivals.

MCN: Favorite gadget or app?

KW: Uber, hands down. It’s changed the world in so many ways.