The CEO has chosen to invest in people and to draw talent from the Bolognese university system. For Massimo Ciociola, this is where the real Silicon Valley is. He defines himself as a ‘talent seeker’ you can’t blame him because he is the brilliant co-founder and CEO of Musixmatch, the world’s largest online catalogue of song lyrics and music vocabulary. A Silicon Valley giant born in the shadow of the Two Towers, which, has over 70 million users, 14 million online texts and 40 employees in addition to customers such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon. The eight-year company made its fortune thanks to the advent of digital music, and, in 2015, was even among the winners of the FbStart Program, the global Facebook program that helps startups grow and prosper. Massimo was even honoured in front of a crowd hosted by Zuckerberg for his incredible achievement. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4DW-QgZ4X4
Interview by Il Resto del Carlino.
Speaking of hi-tech companies, the call to the cradle of digital, Silicon Valley, is inevitable. What is the difference between Bologna and San Francisco Bay?
“I have news: basically none. It was enough for me to spend half a day at Stanford to understand how much Alma Mater really is a cradle of talent.”
What kind of talents?
“Whoever deals with ‘big data’ (basically mathematicians), computer engineers, creators of multilingual content and experts in artificial intelligence. These are the ‘trades’ of the future and the main profiles from which Musixmatch finds it talent. 70% come from the University of Bologna.”
Can investing in digital education be a good way to cope with the so-called ‘brain drain’?
“The university, with which we collaborate, has already understood this, so much so that it is slowly revolutionizing its degree programs. Personally, I have always worked hard, looking for talents to make them stay and taking care of the selection of personnel. Just think, every year we receive up to 1000 Cv’s. Moreover these guys are so skilled that if you do not offer them a good prospect of work they will surely find it elsewhere.”
And what is the recipe for keeping them?
“70% of the 15 million euros collected in 8 years, which is 10 million, I have invested back into personnel.”
In training courses?
“No, in hiring and salary. These guys do not need to be trained, they are on the same level as their Stanford cousins.”
Does Bologna have everything it takes to become a second Silicon Valley?
“Yes, we have understood that of hi-tech companies, Alma Mater has understood that, the only ones to be convinced are the mechanical entrepreneurs, a ‘switch’ between the two worlds is happening, but they are still too attached to a territorial logic famous in the world for food and for our Motor Valley.”
How well is the digital Bologna world known abroad?
“For the moment still too little, but this city has a great potential. It was fundamental for Musixmatch as it was also for Yoox. It is a fertile ground in which to plant the seeds of a startup, starting from the quality of life and the centrality for transport, to get to much lower costs than in Silicon Valley, and fun-driven for the new unparalleled generations.”