Yvette Kanouff

Partner, JC2 Ventures

Yvette Kanouff has spent her career blazing trails, revolutionizing video and helping others along the way. As an eighth-grade student in Germany, where her military family was stationed, Kanouff discovered what would become her intellectual passion. Scolding her for goofing off, her teacher sent her to the board to solve an algebra problem. “I solved the problem, and I thought, that was so easy. And I fell in love with math that day.”

She studied mathematics at the University of Central Florida and began her career as a radar engineer with Lockheed Martin, developing pattern recognition algorithms – now known as artificial intelligence algorithms.

A Lockheed colleague who was interviewing with Time Warner Cable encouraged her to apply. “I came into the cable industry to help them build two-way video networks – that needs computer science and mathematics, I assumed,” she says. Her ability to code, script, and write significant software made her something of a unicorn. “I realized there was nobody like me in the industry, or if there was, I didn’t work with them. So I got to work on the funnest stuff. We had to build every spec from scratch – how to encode, create metadata, store, stream, deliver, modulate, transport, build applications and more.”

Working with Warner Brothers to put a movie onto digital media, she says, “I remember writing one command that was a page long. But all that work was the predecessor to creating the DVD. That wasn’t what we were trying to do, but we ended up creating a digital storage and playout medium for every person in their home.” Kanouff led the world’s first video-on-demand trial, and her work in VOD, cloud DVR, digital and on-demand advertising, streaming security and privacy changed the face of video. In 2020 she was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award in Technology and Engineering by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Often the only woman in the room, especially early in her career, Kanouff has more than her share of stories about unconscious bias, and she has skillfully overcome many barriers with confidence, competence and good humor. She prides herself on the many lifelong friends, male and female, that she has made through deep technical and industry connections.

“It’s just a tough journey for the first one,” Kanouff says, and she is committed to easing the journey for those who follow her. She founded Tech Connect, a mentoring program, and Multiplier Effect, which focuses on sponsorship. “You’ve got to open a door and pull people through. The day I don’t have to do it for women, I’ll gladly do it for somebody else who’s an underdog.”

Kanouff encourages those coming into the business to preserve its distinctive collegiality and creativity. “I’d like to see people continue to help the next generation. We need them and we have to welcome them and help them thrive,” she says. “And most important – never stop innovating!”

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Yvette Kanouff, Partner, JC2 Ventures - 2024 Cable Hall of Fame Honoree
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