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October Video 2.0 Meetup

October 31, 2007

The October Video 2.0 meetup was one of the best meetups I’ve attended so far. It was a packed house at For Your Imagination Studios (probably 300+ people). The presenters were as follows:

1. Joost – David Clark, GM North America
2. Blip.tv – Justin Day, Co-founder & CTO
3. 5min.com – Ran Harnevo, Co-founder & CEO
4. HeyCosmo.com – David Im substituting for his brother James Im, Founder & CEO
 

HeyCosmo.com
HeyCosmo kicked things off. Now I have to say that this presentation was the most entertaining of the bunch, but probably for the wrong reasons. The CEO James Im was unable to attend the event, so what does he do? He gets his non-tech savvy brother to fill in. What is family for, right? Anyway, the concept of HeyCosmo is great. Basically, live video chat to supplement an activity such as playing an online game or watching a video. One of the demos showed a bunch of people playing online poker. So rather than having to stare at avatars, you’re actually seeing the other poker players around the room, and you actually get to converse with them. HeyCosmo really enhances the social aspect of online games. Now David, the presenter, wasn’t able to answer any of the tech questions but did a great job entertaining the audience. When asked, “how do you make money?””, his response was “It has to do with the user-base.” Of course, everybody cracked up and it was all in fun. His best answer came when someone asked how you can tell who’s talking when you have a bunch of people on one screen. So he goes back to the powerpoint presention and flips to the online poker example, and with a straight face, says, “When you see someone’s mouth moving, they’re talking.” Anyway, the company seems to have a lot of potential. It really uses online video to enhance online game play and create a more social environment. I believe their business model is to license out their technology.

Joost
David Clark, Joost’s EVP of Global Advertising, had to follow-up James’ comedy routine. For those who don’t know, Joost was created by the founders of Kazaa and Skype and utilizes peer-to-peer technologies to deliver high quality video. Joost basically turns your computer into a TV. There’s no question that Joost’s high quality video is impressive. The big question is whether they will get that mass adoption and whether the need to download their app will cost them users. Joost will host professional videos that are studio-created as well as smaller productions (ahem, Hayley Project anyone?). He also said that Joost utilizes an open API so they expect the community to build widgets, the same way that the Facebook community does. In terms of some stats, David says that the percent of overall peer-to-peer being utilized vs. server is about 70%, which is quite high and saves on their costs. In terms of advertising, he says they’re looking for the right “formula” (everybody is in search of this magical formula….). Right now, they’re looking at 1:00-1:30 minutes of mid-roll advertising per one hour of content. This is also supplemented by other interactive advertising.
 

5min.com
5min.com was the most impressive company I’ve seen in a while. From user-experience to business model, this site makes a lot of sense. Basically, 5min.com is an instructional video site, limited to 5 min videos. Users can upload instructional videos and teach viewers anything they’re an expert in (e.g., yoga, golf, origami, etc.). Their site mantra is “everybody is good at something” and “we all have something to learn from each other”. Of course, if the instructional video is poor, user rankings will bring them down so the sub-par video won’t be watched as frequently. During the demo, the presenter showed us the capability of the player to zoom-in, go into slow motion, and even supply storyboards for printing purposes. These guys got it right in terms of thinking about the user learning experience. Right now, they’re getting about 700-1,000 uploads per month. Their staff is currently doing the categorization, but eventually they will rely on the community to catalog the videos. The business plan makes a lot of sense too. In addition to typical advertising, the real business model kicks in when you think about how they monetize niche content through sponsorship. Say you want to watch a video on making mixed drinks using vodka. Absolute can sponsor that video. It’s a pretty tight business case. For the content producer, they will get revenue sharing, but more importantly, they have an opportunity to build their own business’ brand and demonstrate their expertise. Overall, a brilliant idea and one that I think will succeed. The presenter said they only have two primary competitors right now. But as the category grows, so will the number of entrants.

Blip.tv
The last company to present is New York darlings Blip.tv. Average age of these start-up guys is 25 or so. A true success story. For those who don’t know, Blip.tv caters towards episodic shows. They help market, monetize, and distribute content. They seem like a great one-stop shop for any content producer. As a content producer, you can distribute to blogs, Flickr, iTunes, and can customize your players to be its own brand, among other things. You also have essentially unlimited hosting (as long as the file is under 1GB and who would have anything bigger than that anyway?). Blip.tv also has a cool feature where you can set up a future publishing date/time, so that you can upload the video and tell it to automatically go live at 9AM Monday morning. I’ve only heard good things about Blip.tv, and I expect we’ll use them for The Hayley Project when the time is right.

Overall, great meetup. And again, these meetups are fantastic networking opportunities.

Tomorrow night, there’s a Revver’s creator event at For Your Imagination studios. If interested, click here for details.

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