Pex culture: Focusing on what really matters

Oh, it’s dog-friendly too?!

80s arcade games. Kombucha taps. Fully stocked kitchen. These are the typical bells and whistles we’ve come to expect of tech startups that present as fun, friendly, and non-hierarchical. By the end of week two, however, you’ve already found the cracks in the facade. The office Machiavellian who hoards information and know-how in the name of self-preservation. The VP who’s already blacklisted you for not meeting the daily facetime quota. The backend engineer who’s brilliant, but is also condescending and combative. You’re treated less like a real person and more like an expendable resource. And c’mon, you’ll never put a meaningful dent in that “unlimited PTO” — let’s be real.

Companies like this have lost sight of the key elements of a good culture. At Pex, these key elements are a top priority.

Not on a conveyor belt: our interview process

The common thread throughout my interviews with the Pex team was how humanely and respectfully I was treated. Deadlines for follow-ups were honored. My interviewers were honest in their assessments of my skills and experience, while remaining friendly and attentive. Even if they were extremely busy, they never made me feel like an inconvenience. Best of all, they never ghosted me!

Me, believing the non-Pex recruiter who said I’d hear a decision within 48 hours.
Photo by Genaro Servín from Pexels.

In my final round, I spoke with Pex’s CEO, Rasty Turek, who kicked off our half-hour rather unconventionally:

“So, tell me about yourself. What does a typical weekend day look like for you? How do you start your day? What do you do for fun?”

No questions on how to optimize a query. No Python coding on a whiteboard. No brainteasers. Rasty did not want to gauge my technical chops. And rather than determine if I would fit within a predefined Pex monoculture, he wanted to know if I would be a culture add.

To this day, I have never in a job interview talked so much about my love of powerlifting and mixing adult beverages.

This is just my take on my interview process. You can learn more about our hiring process here!

Character matters

While technical prowess and communication are imperative to success at Pex, we also look for people who are receptive to feedback while embracing the growth mentality. Our holistic approach to recruiting inspires takeaways such as:

  • Will they hold a vendetta against the critic?
  • Can the candidate provide candid feedback of another’s work without inflammatory comments or condescending tone? Do they seek to help others, rather than “put them in their place”?
  • Is the candidate willing to avail themselves when asked for help? Will they try to quickly rid themselves of the person asking because their time is “too important”?
  • If the candidate is not facile with X-language or Y-application, do they have the resolve to learn it? Do they have an innate drive to evolve and adapt, or are they looking to coast?

We all need help

As we evaluate candidates holistically before making hiring decisions, we at Pex are willing to accept a few minor shortcomings in technical skills and industry knowledge. That is why we expressly encourage every employee to both ask for help and take time to help one another.

Having transitioned from a career in finance into data analytics, my Python and SQL skills were as good as what I learned in my self-paced MOOC. Translation: They were a good starting point.

Had the previous data analyst not so graciously sacrificed his time to show me the nuances of advanced PostgreSQL and our extremely complex data, I would have floundered in my role. “Career development” is not a mere buzzword to us. In fact, the reason why the data analyst position was opened was because the previous one was transitioning to a development role internally.


We’re not fans of informational asymmetry and obfuscation, which engender resentment, office politicking, and discriminatory practices. So we choose to be transparent.

Performance discussions are fair and not misleading. All employees are made well aware of where they excel and where they need to improve. We do not communicate these via hints, implications, or facial expressions.

Compensation packages for all employees are known company-wide. For each position, there is no deviation from what is stated. A Machine Learning Engineer II receives as much cash and as many equity units as all other Machine Learning Engineer IIs. To further ensure adherence to the existing figures, Pex does not negotiate compensation when offers are extended to candidates. This has served as a great deterrent to gender- and race-based pay discrimination.

Just say it

Many startups boast of a “flat org structure” that allows the free exchange of thoughts and ideas, regardless of job title. Seasoned startup workers know this principle does not always apply to those at the director level and above. But at Pex, we believe in a company-wide policy of “respectful candor.” The ability to offer ideas or criticisms freely and in our own voices opens up communication so we can work more efficiently and are encouraged to speak up.

If it’s clear you do not intend to demean or insult, it’s probably OK to say it.

It also means we are free to talk about topics that are important to us, and to share our bold opinions without fear of repercussions. Our Slack channels are full of lively, impassioned discourse on a variety of topics – music, film, local restaurants, and even politics.

As of publication, there have been no intense fights resulting from discussions on potentially divisive issues. We acknowledge one another’s fundamental humanity, rather than rush to condemn.

Thanks for coming to my Pex Talk

Every other Wednesday at Pex, we host a Pex Talk in which an employee presents a topic they are passionate about. Offroading, the ocean, sound engineering, ultrarunning, cake baking, sumo… few things are off limits.

  • One colleague shared his love of meat, including pictures of his (literally) all-meat dishes. 
  • Another shared her experience with and recommendations for a minimalist lifestyle. She lives unencumbered, free of the burdens of a TV, a coffee table, Instagram, and physical media.
  • One of our managers shared his experiences with his stutter and how he overcame it. That he felt comfortable sharing that with his coworkers speaks volumes of the safe environment we cultivate.
A Pex-ified meat cake: Layers of ground bison meatloaf joined by goat cheese and toasted cumin spread surround a center of scrambled eggs and butter. Topped with a frosting of goat cheese and “Pex” written in salami. Sprinkled with crushed peppercorns and wrapped in bacon, of course.

Stick your head in the sand

All Pex employees are given 30 days of paid time off. At first glance, this may seem like a downgrade from the unlimited PTO offered at most startups. But since we can accrue no more than 30 days, we are actually encouraged to use our allotment. We’d rather you be recharged and motivated than overworked and burnt out, waiting for that one annual trip.

We hope to speak with you soon!

I hope this gives you a more comprehensive understanding of our culture and how we put it into practice. While we at Pex are all imperfect human beings prone to mistakes and lapses in judgment, we consciously try to hold ourselves to the principles that enable a great company culture.

So if you’re interested in joining a very cool company doing very cool things in licensing and rights management, we encourage you to apply here! If you don’t see anything that matches what you’re looking for, shoot your resume over to We’re always thinking of new ways to expand our team.

Music became even more valuable on YouTube in 2019

We’ve updated our 2018 analysis of YouTube to see how the platform changed in 2019. 

Pex 2019 analysis on YouTube. Music became even more valuable on YouTube in 2019.

The state of YouTube 2019

In 2020, new social platforms like TikTok may be dominating headlines, but good old platforms like YouTube are still the trusted sources of views and revenue for most creators. We’ve analyzed the state of YouTube for 2019, as we did last year, and are sharing the data on its content, category performance, uploads, and more.

Disclaimer on the data

Pex indexes selected platforms, extracts audio and video content, fingerprints it and searches through it. In addition, we collect and update all surrounding metadata on a regular basis. These include views, number of comments, likes, dislikes and other information about the uploaded video. We have no direct relationship with YouTube. We have no visibility into private and unlisted content, nor do we have any information about the consumers of the content.

We monitor all visible content on all of the supported platforms. We don’t estimate, extrapolate, or in any way tamper with the data we extract from these platforms.

All the data is based on performance of all publicly available videos as of Dec 31st, 2019.

Quick refresher on our 2018 study

In our analysis of 2018 data, we observed several key insights:

  • Music generated the most views per video and was also responsible for the overwhelming majority of videos with 1 billion or more views.
  • Gaming was increasing its share of total platform content, while shares of all other categories were declining.
  • Unique user growth was stagnating, but “YouTubers” were becoming more active, uploading more videos every year.
  • Less than 1% of YouTube videos generated more than 80% of total views on the platform.

Here’s what we saw in 2019

With YouTube seemingly reaching peak saturation of unique uploading users, this rate of growth has stagnated since 2017. In light of this, YouTube’s uploading user base continues to be more active in the form of more uploads.

Uploads per user on YouTube in 2019

Users have continued to increase their average upload output each year, with the majority of new videos (33%) uploaded to the Gaming category. The average uploads per user in 2019 hit 16, doubling the output from five years ago. 

The three-new-videos jump from 2018’s 13 uploads per user is also the largest year-over-year increase in YouTube’s history.

Percent of total YouTube content by category

In our 2018 analysis, we noted that Gaming content has been surging over the past few years, and 2019 data suggest this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. Gaming is the only category to have increased its proportion of total content since 2016, while all other categories stagnate or continue to comprise less and less of the platform’s overall offering. This data point becomes especially interesting as we explore which types of content are most valuable on the platform.

Percent of total content by category

Breakdown by category

Despite the explosive growth in Gaming uploads, it’s not the best performing category on YouTube. Music continues to dominate the platform with more views per video than any other category. When normalizing for the duration of each upload, Music’s lead is even more pronounced. Music’s 2,944 views per minute is more than double that of Entertainment and roughly 22 times greater than Gaming.

Views, average length, and views per min broken down by category

Percent of views and content by category

Music and Entertainment, despite representing small respective portions of YouTube’s uploads, represented an unbelievable 43% of the total views on the platform in 2019.

Percent of total views and content broken down by category

Music actually became more important on YouTube in 2019 as compared to 2018. Last year, Music accounted for 22% of all views, a two percent increase from the previous year. Music may make up a small percentage of content at 5%, but it still draws the most attention, followed by Entertainment, which needed twice as much content to get nearly the same percentage of views as Music. 

Note: People & Blogs is the default category for YouTube uploads if no other category is manually selected by the user. Therefore, People & Blogs is artificially inflated and some of its content should likely be categorized differently.

Distribution of views by views tier

While YouTube is still the de facto content platform for widespread visibility, clearing the hurdle from obscurity to fame is no easy feat. The overwhelming majority of YouTube videos (88.4%) still generate fewer than 1,000 views. It’s fair to assume that Me at the zoo, the first video ever uploaded to YouTube, would not cross that threshold in the modern YouTube climate.

Percent of total views on YouTube broken down by view tiers

Distribution of videos by views tier

Just as we saw in 2018, a small fraction of videos make up the most views. A mere 0.77% of videos generated 82.83% of the views in 2019.

Percent of total videos on YouTube broken down by views tier

With over 80% of views concentrated in a sliver of videos, what YouTube category is responsible for the most popular content? 

No surprises here; the answer is Music. 

Breakdown of each views tier by YouTube category

For the “10 to 100 million” and “100 million to 1 billion” views tiers, Music leads the way in share of total videos with 30% and 57%, respectively. For the same view tiers, Entertainment comes in second place with 25% and 17%, respectively. 

For videos exceeding 1 billion views, Music is responsible for a whopping 83% of videos. Entertainment manages only 1.5% of such videos, while Gaming comprises just 0.5%.


In summary, 2019 proved to be a continuation of the YouTube distributions we witnessed in 2018. Gaming is on its way to becoming the majority of the platform’s content. However, Music and Entertainment videos bring the majority of the views, despite being only 15% of the platform’s videos. Music is also becoming more valuable year-over-year, increasing its share of total views. As other platforms like TikTok have become more and more popular, YouTube remains the dominant video platform and continues to grow, with the number of uploads per user still increasing in 2019.

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