Thoughts On Online Video

Remember back in 2006, I used to write about online video and youtube all the time. I used to embed a lot of video in the blog. I invested personally in Wallstrip and leaned a lot about online video with that.

YouTube was sold to Google, Wallstrip was sold to CBS, and I kind of lost my enthusiasm for online video. Union Square Ventures has not yet invested in online video and at this time it’s not clear when we will.

I mention all of this because I read my friend (and Wallstrip founder) Howard’s post about online video on Silicon Alley Insider this morning. It’s a slightly edited version of something Howard posted on his blog last week.

Here is the essential point:

hundreds of new online video companies have launched with thousands of
programs, business models, tools and services. The result…it has never
been cheaper to make, distribute and analyze video content, BUT, never
been harder to get attention.

We learned at Wallstrip that you cannot get potential viewers to come to your site to watch video, you have to go where the audience already is. From the very start, Wallstrip posted its daily video to something like a dozen video services. I remember how time consuming the posting and the tracking was and I believe I posted a couple years ago that someone needed to solve that problem. Someone did, it’s called Tubemogul, and Howard is an investor in that company.

What’s interesting to me is that in the ensuing year or so since online video left the front of my brain, not much has changed. In fact, YouTube appears to be even more dominant than it was when Google bought it. YouTube serves almost 50% of all the video on the web.

If the best way to reach potential viewers is to be on YouTube, and it is today, that’s not a great thing. It makes the attention problem even worse.

Howard has a suggestion in his post(s):

If I was a video entrepreneur (again) or producer, director etc… and
knew the tools of the web trade, I would approach the fast growing
internet brands like Etsy,, – that have the traffic
– and help them build more community and brand loyalty through a web

That makes sense, but how do you build your own equity in the show if you do that? If Wallstrip was built for, it could not have been sold to CBS.

I think online video continues to be a very difficult place to be an entrepreneur and that’s why we have avoided it so far at Union Square Ventures. That could change, and I hope it will, but we need some inspiration and I certainly don’t have it right now.

But I will leave you with something from my favorite online video service, blogotheque.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Jesse Chenard

    I agree and disagree with you on this one. I agree that little has been done to challenge YouTube as the dominant player in user generated/questionable content. I disagree in that I think a lot has been done on behind the scenes that will ultimately begin to payoff in the next year or two.The different ad units that are in place and the ability for advertisers to measure them is shaping up nicely. The promised flood of advertising dollars is still only a trickle but as we continue to show accountability beyond that of TV video advertising that spigot will open. Internet display and rich media advertising took a long time to standardize, so will video.In my mind the key thing we are still lacking is a good discovery system. Today I rely on the tv networks, my friends, the tv guide etc to help me navigate the broadcast video world. There is no equivalent in online (yet). If I were looking to make an investment that would be an area of interest for me. As mentioned the advertising side is coming in line. The discovery and sharing process is still painful. Whoever solves that will be providing a great service for all involved.

  2. awilensky

    The only way forward toward tightly focused, skilled trade and technical communities, We can see an inkling of this with new, “how-To”, sites – but even these efforts are not focused enough on the high quality knowledge that is compelling and labor saving enough to make subscribers take out a credit card, or conversely, get sufficiently high CPM rates from specialist advertisers.I am an expert in skilled trade and technical education – I created the first Ctech CD-ROM company for the consumer electronics sector. As an analyst, I am always talking to these new video startups, and…they wont listen. You want money from videos? Then you have to cater to skilled trades that are knowledge based. This takes a real investment in production, creative talent, and most important, technical specialists who can tell a story in their trade.Like all of the social networking palaver, the skilled trades and technical communities are waiting for services that can aid them in their mission critical use cases – but not much has been offered, because as yet, one of their own has not been at the helm of such ventures.And those of us who have an inkling are not being heard by the investment community – they dont like long, methodical pitches and carefully constructed business cases.

    1. Jesse Chenard

      The problem with content plays is that most VCs tend to not understand them or have been burned badly enough to stay away. You’d be better of pitching frustrated Hollywood movie backers as a good alternative investment. Although some VCs seem to be getting into the content space these days my guess is it will be hard to get their ear. Most of them are investing in entrepreneurs or industry people with a success already under their belt (surprise surprise eh.

      1. awilensky

        I didn’t mean that I’m pitching anyone, my pitching days are over. But in my advisory role – I have been dealing with some pretty talented and frustrated technical producers that are, for now, relegated to doing per contract training production, where they could be greatly leveraged doing some titles on sppec with VC capital, or even debt.That was a joke, son! In the 90’s there were technical CD-ROM producers that actualyy got operating and production loans and paid them back. Some even had 90 days revolving production loans. It was a solid business.Me? Pitch? Nah………

  3. Darren Herman

    I have 23 hrs and 56 minutes a day to live (I believe that is right). My attention can only be divided up so many different ways.Fragmentation of our media consumption habits is changing business. Nothing new, but how do we play in this brand new environment?

  4. Yaron Samid

    We’d love to have you at NY Video 2.0 ( tonight Fred. Your friends at Wallstrip and four other startups are demo’ing in front of 500 members at Webster Hall. You might find some video inspiration.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks for the invite but I am in park city utah right now

  5. Chris Dodge

    I’ve been involved in the online video business since 1999. In fact, I was an early, core-member of one of the first User Generated Content video sites back in Internet 1.0, named VideoShare (we were simply much too early).I agree that there is poor signal-to-noise ratio right now in the online video space. I believe that late 2008/9 there will be considerable shake-out in the online video space. I recall there was a NYTime article speculating that even YouTube is having trouble monetizing against a huge cost structure. Well, huge for most companies, maybe not for Google.However, you appear to be avocating that an aspiring video entrepeneur should approach the business like an ASP and provide services or content for 3rd party websites. What’s interesting is that the primary value of YouTube at the time of the acquisition was it’s dominant brand as it is clear that it was (still is?) a large money looser. If companies start to provide platform services for 3rd parties, they fail to build up that brand value – since they are quietly hidden in a hosting brand – while on the bad side of the operating results.Personally, I think some time still needs to pass and real traction in monetization occurs before I’d dip my toe into the waters from a Investor’s/Entrepeneur angle.

  6. howardlindzon

    Here is a continuation of my thoughts on the video tidal wave –…thanks fred

  7. chartreuse

    2 things.If I was talking to someone starting a video show I would tell them this:First forget about building a website. No one cares about it. MySpace, FriendFeed,Facebook, etc. have killed them.Talk to a few tastemaker blogs and websites your audience devours and make rev. sharing deals.If you have money to spend go to retail/online mp4 sellers and have them put an ad for your show in the packaging box.Concentrate on the user experience. Make sure everything loads fast.Build your audience slowly and treat them like gold.If I was talking to an investor I would tell them to invest in talent. Finding exploiters of talent is the easy part.About everything else: [Surprisingly 🙂 ] Howard is right.

    1. fredwilson

      It’s not that easy to invest in talentPeople don’t want to be owned, even a part of them

      1. chartreuse

        You’re the investment expert but I kinda disagree with you. Talent accepts investments all the time. Managers is the 20th Century word for the custom. :)I will admit that it’s different now. The rules are all out of the window which (imho) makes it easier.I think the problem that you (and other VCs) may be having is that Talent doesn’t need as much money to get in the game as they use to. But they still need other things if they plan to scale and that’s where people like you come into the picture.Like any investment, your job is to make it easier forthe talent to do what they do and take a portion for that aid. That hasn’t changed.

        1. fredwilson

          I can see how that works with david karp and marco, daniel ha and his partner jason, rob kalin and his partners, etc. Those are the talents we backI can’t see how I’d do that with the next ricky gervais or kate nashI have a friend who has a record label who probably knows how to do that kind of investment, but I don’tFred

          1. jeffmarks7

            Not easy for sure, but I think success can be found if the venture is really focused. You’re not investing in the next Rick Gervais, you’re investing in the next Ricky Gervais movie per se. I think a web show can be an investment opportunity like an independent film can be. The medium is certainly new, but there are enough similarities to more traditional entertainment ventures, that it’s possible to execute a deal that has success artistically, and in terms of return for the investors. But there are also plenty of movies that go to Sundance every year that never return for the people who put their money in, so I think the investors must realize that they are investing in more expensive “art” which is a newer paradigm for the web. You’re not investing in a turn-key technology, more like an indie tv-show (in overly simplistic terms). And if the concept and the talent takes off – the return is definitely there for the people putting the money up. But desire for involvement in something really cool (again in overly simplistic terms) with plenty of cache is key, because the returns will be smaller margins no matter what. Also with regards to cpm – a $25 cpm will not work right now. I don’t think there are enough total views at the moment, rather there are rabid, focused, very upwardly mobile audiences/communities. You’ve got to be able to tell that story to advertisers from the beginning. If there’s one thing I learned from Wallstrip is that it would have been incredible to have a sales person as part of the team from very early on that could have told that story. It would have made us that much more valuable to CBS when the time came.

  8. Rob Long

    I was in a meeting yesterday with a bunch of studio executives — most of whom are only dimly aware of just how dimly aware they are about new media — and one of them said, offhand, about a failed TV pilot he’d just produced, “Maybe I should just throw it up on YouTube and see what happens.” Not realizing, of course, that what will probably happen is nothing. Finding something on YouTube is a little like trying to drink from the firehouse.We spend a lot of money in Hollywood on building awareness — the prints-and-advertising (P&A) budget of a theatrical release these days is roughly equal to the budget of the movie — in fact, the opening few weekend’s box office receipts are pretty much paid for on a one-dollar-for-P&A = one-dollar-from-the-box-office ratio, which would be ruinous (and is ruinous, in some cases; ask the guys who used to run New Line) if not for downstream revenue, like DVDs, which account for almost 75% of the ultimate take.That’s, of course, big-money media. It’s done on a smaller scale all the time. But even though I’d love to be able to pitch VCs on my latest content/web video idea — and I do have some cooking; anybody interested?? — I can’t honestly say that it’s a great idea, or that it makes economic sense. If a tech product fails, you learn something useful. You can fix it, change it, start over, start smarter. If a media product fails, you really don’t know anything at all — media products succeed and fail on a mysterious basis (of course, they can’t succeed if no one can find them….) and anyone who thinks he “has a system” or can “engineer a hit” is a fool, and someone I’d very much like to meet. I have some stuff to pitch.What Wallstrip did brilliantly — and it was brilliant; I remember seeing it and thinking, “Wow, these guys understand more about media and television than almost anyone I know and work with, including me, unfortunately” — was keep a tight focus, maintain clockwork delivery, make sure the content is both fun and also immediate — you want your viewers to feel that they need to see you, daily; that you’ll deliver a few laughs, and something useful, and you won’t waste their time. And they did it all by distributing the product to the audience that mattered to them, and an audience that redistributed it further.Oh, and each episode had an implied call to action: buy, sell, short….I think the key, for the next few years, anyway, is going to be managing to do 2 things at once: build powerful sifting engines that create personal channels that deliver and anticipate what you want to watch, through friend recommendations, etc.; but also on the content side, building audience behavior (remember: the 2 hour movie or 1/2 hour sitcom are pretty recent developments in human entertainment) by among other things replicating Wallstrip all over the place, in a thousand different niche areas. A Wallstrip for lacrosse. A Wallstrip for cars. A Wallstrip for country music….Most of them will fail. Most of them will be awful. But that’s sort of the way it goes. Most things don’t work. But some will pop. And two or three years from now, the audience will be used to getting their news this way.I think pure entertainment web video will work the same way: sure, some of it right now is lame, but somebody’s going to get a hit, somehow. And it will be because the product was good, consistent, tightly focused, and especially lucky, and because they used new tools to get the product in front of a targeted niche audience, which then was encouraged (compensated, even?) to share it and share it and share it.The odds are long, of course, but the odds in the entertainment business are always long. I’ve got a 1/2 hour comedy pilot at ABC, which may or may not go, and may or may not appear on the fall schedule, and even if it does, statistically speaking is doomed to fail, because “no one” will know that it’s on. Because it’ll be on the wrong night or after the wrong show or it appeals to an audience that doesn’t watch ABC. Or, you know, maybe it sucks and I just can’t tell.Well, I’ve spent too many words saying, essentially, that Fred is right.Oh, and full disclosure: I’m working on a Wallstrip for the entertainment business. We’re calling it “Hollywidget.” Probably won’t work….

  9. jeffmarks7

    What we learned when we started our company BrightRED (that went on to create Wallstrip with Howard) is that the big TV/entertainment companies have a long way to go to understand what web native content really means. In their universe the content creators are totally separate from the people who deal with the distribution. In this new web video era, producers are not just responsible for making the content sharp (Adam and I wrote and directed the first 250 or so Wallstrip episodes), but need to handle their own distribution in house as well (not just uploading and community experience, but having a distribution strategy as part of our business model). Understanding that we had to be masters of both, is what I believe made us so attractive to CBS interactive for acquisition (we really were new media producers). Traditional tv obviously works completely opposite. I was asked by the Dean of my old film school what techniques should they be teaching to film students who want to get into the web video space. My answer was just what I’m talking about here. They’re already learning how to shoot, edit and produce (and short form is not new, just exploding because of the web), so they need to be learning the tools/distro environment of the web space. I know coming from a film/tv background myself, that’s where the biggest learning curve has been for me – but it’s also the most exciting part, because the opportunity to create you’re own show, with it’s very own network is the revolution. As for people from a web/tech background… they need to learn how to shoot/light/edit and direct. You can teach yourself so much sure, but filmmaking counts, even on the web :)The web and technology companies

  10. Obee

    Seems to me the issue is not distrubtion, business models etc…, but rather CONTENT. Most of the web video just isn’t that good. Why watch a 3 – 5minute video of a talking head when I can read an article in the same time that conveys more information and is less passive?The web is so far one of the most active ways of consuming media and knoweldge. That is — you’re actively reading, picking, moving through links, considering opinions. There are nearly always multiple angles easily accessible.Video is one of the most passive. Theres a mismatch there. In making video so easy to create and distrubute, we’ve lost focus on what content is ideally suited for video, and what is best left in text.You can learn a lot more with 5 minutes on seekingalpha than on Wallstrip (which is great stuff — but a different enterprise altogether).

    1. fredwilson

      I totally agreeThe only reason I’ll watch video on the web is to be entertained or to beshown how to do somethingYou can’t multi-task with videofred

  11. Steve Poland

    Kevin Barnes is the shit. Thank you for the video.

  12. mrclark411

    Does anyone know of any online video services that have REAL APIs? Where I can build a player on top of their video?

    1. Jesse Chenard

      Most of the platform providers do have some level of customization built right in. My company, Tremor Media, has some interesting solutions and I know one of our partners BrightCove takes it even a couple steps further with their API. What are you trying to accomplish? That will really dictate the number of providers who can potentially provide you with service. Depending on how customized/integrated you want you might wind up just building it yourself and cobble together the service providers you need yourself (CMS, CDN, etc).

      1. mrclark411

        I need to be able to customize the playback. As simple as A-B repeat (set by the user) and as complicated as slowing the video/audio down (not essential). An API would be important though so our service can sync with it. We’re really hoping not to get into the hosting business, just “customized playback” of current popular media sites.

        1. Jesse Chenard

          I would check out BrightCove’s API. It is pretty feature rich. Link is here.

          1. mrclark411

            Thanks. I’ll check it out.What do you know about Mogulus’ use of YouTube content within their site? As far as I can tell, when you import YouTube content into Mogulus for “broadcast” you are literally importing/downloading the video file into Mogulus who then hosts the media.Do you suppose they have an agreement with YouTube or is this fair game?Any insight?

          2. fredwilson

            I don’t know anything about mogulus. I’ll have to take a look thanks for pointing it outFred

  13. jim louderback

    We have a discovery system out there, one that drives lots of sampling and makes hits. It’s called iTunes (and to a lesser extent the Zune Marketplace). The fine folks managing the video areas of those sites are the new network programmers. Want to build an audience? Get them excited about your product.Don’t believe me? Get an Apple TV and hook it up to your HDTV. Then explore the Favorite HD video podcast area. Or pick up the new Zune and try some free video from the Marketplace.Niche audiences, engaging hosts that come from those communities (experts, not actors) and leveraging existing audiences where you can. That’s the path to success today in online video.Oh, and buying those new network programmers coffee every now and then doesn’t hurt either.

    1. fredwilson

      JimOf course you are right that itunes distribution is important but its just another variation of the old model where one or two big companies controlled the means of distributionWe are moving past that as hard as apple tries to ignore itI think the views an obama speech gets on youtube is at least an order of magnitude what it would get on itunesThe new media model is audience based not distribution channel basedFred

      1. Robert Seidman

        About this, I think you’re both right and wrong. Apple does represent the OLD model, but it will (in my opinion) wind up competing with the big cabe companies and others in terms of being a big distributer. While viewing outside big distribution will certainly grow, I think it is you (not Apple) who doesn’t get that the need for big distribution is important.Nobody has black boxed “wherever you want it, whenever you want it” media. There will be a demand for this and a few years down the road Apple is in a very good position vs. the field.

        1. fredwilson

          MaybeBut I have an appletv and a macmini in my media center and the macmini is way more popular because it has safari on itThe web trumps all at the end of the dayFred

          1. Robert Seidman

            the macmini is a better deal but there a lot of things that itunes/appletv don’t do right now that they probably will do in the future:-DVR functionality-Slingbox functionality-optimized video for your computer or big screen tv or iphone/ipodonce it all gets to be pushbutton simple, the world changes. the world changes much more still if regulation causes the availability of a la carte cable channels and Apple can get access to all that content plus the broadcast nets and sell subscriptions to it on an a la carte basis (NBC will be back…someday)Watching what you want when you want where you want it trumps all…at the end of the day.

          2. fredwilson

            the web is open and apple is closed. open is going to win

          3. isayusay

            I went to the apple SDK party in Boston last week. It’s still buggy.

  14. brettwilson

    Agreed with Fred’s comment that online video is a difficult place for entrepreneurs… The content creators we work with at TubeMogul are doing everything from brokering complex content licensing deals to selling t-shirts. We see two important trends: First, we are talking to more brands/advertisers that have now established “experimental budgets” to test online video advertising in its many forms. So the money is coming. Second, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of quality “new media content creators”, and they have much more control of their content and distribution than via other content venues (like TV). The implication is that smart and capable content creators may also increasingly control the monetization of their content – not ad networks and video sharing sites. Because of this, there is no clear advertising value chain in the online video marketplace. Helping to make sense of this confusion is where we see opportunity.Thanks for mentioning us, Fred.

  15. andrewbaron

    Hm. Howard’s post was not about how to invest in content, it was about building platforms. Have you ever seen Frontline on PBS? That show is not about building a community, its about the few people behind the show that create content that people want to watch.Its the creating-content-that-people-want-to-watch part that most people forget about when they talk about what to do.For a daily serial production, in less than a year, you can grow to 1 Million videos views per week, not a lot to ask for. That # continues to grow every day on its own.For content that creates a spark (the stuff people forget to mention when thinking about what to do), you can get $25+ CPM from high quality advertisers (I don’t mean GoDaddy). ‘Best if you dont have to rev share down to %50.1,000,000 views per week$25 CPM=$25k per weekSo what’s the problem?

    1. fredwilson

      How many video startups have done that?And 25k per week is great for a small company but not a way to make a big hitFred

      1. andrewbaron

        Historically, some of the most moving arts were underwritten by philanthropists who believed in the value art brings to culture. Maybe you could get your feet wet by taking this approach. Find a “small company” (your words) – one that has already created a spark online and is growing on their own, but creates content that you actually really love yourself, personally.Underwrite the show/company for one year.Get to know the show and how it works. Get involved to figure it out, just like you do with blogging, for instance. Get your feet wet as much as you want to. If nothing comes of it in one year, write it off like you would a painting. At the end of a year, you will have enriched the lives of many, including yourself. You will have allowed great art to flow, at least in your mind and the minds of many other very appreciative and likely inspired people.Who knows, maybe the same “small company” will start to see their numbers/value grow to sustain themselves on their own eventually.While $1.2M annual rev might be considered a small company value, maybe the next year their audience will double. Or triple perhaps.Its all about your perspective. If you need to make a 100x valuation on a $1B sale, then I would say you are misunderstanding the value of content.

        1. fredwilson

          I did exactly that with wallstripI would do the same with blogotheque but they are in france and for all I know they don’t need someone like me at this pointAnd your last point is partially why our fund, which doesn’t need billion dollar exits, but does need hundred million dollar exits, largely avoids contentFred

          1. andrewbaron

            I wasn’t talking about a Wallstrip “deal”. Im talking about something different. It requires a real desire to want to get involved and participate.I actually think of David Karp (who you mentioned above) as an artist. Its the same. Its about the talented people and their foresight, drive and capability.I assumed you were interested in the question of how to invest in content creators (you mentioned ricky gervais and kate nash), but it sounds like you are actually asking a different question: How can you invest in a content network business. Well, for starters, make sure it has good content 😉

          2. fredwilson

            To be honest, I am not sure about any of this stuff.I am one of those vcs that someone mentioned earlier in this discussion that³has been burned by content²But I also enjoyed the wallstrip experience and have had some successinvesting personally on a very small scale in content.I am sure that union square ventures won’t be investing in pure content anytime soon but that doesn’t mean its not a worthwhile endeavor if done in theright way by the right peopleMy friend steve greenburg who runs S-Curve Records is someone who knows howto do it and he’s doing great right now.fred

  16. chartreuse

    I know I already commented but I wanted to bring up something.I was reading a link sent to me from NYT today.…Now the link is about politics but it’s actually about all media and I think it’s relevant to the conversation.

    1. isayusay

      Thanks for sharing the link. It explains the magic of word of mouth through various media buzz across demographics.

    2. fredwilson

      Politics is media

    3. fredwilson

      I know I already replied 😉 but if you cannot get your audience to be your distribution, you won’t succeed in the new media modelOf course you know that chartreuseFred

      1. chartreuse

        exactly! 🙂

  17. pwb

    The point is, if you are going to try to develop an online-video-based franchise, you’re going to have a rough go of it because you are up against millions of others who have different standards of “success”.Also, I’d like to point out that YouTube was far from lucky. They made some very conscientious decisions that were key to success, namely using low quality Flash-based video that started instantly, having little or no restrictions on uploads and uploaders and making it easier than easy to push videos out to MySpace et al.

    1. fredwilson

      CorrectI wrote a lot about those decisions back in 2006Its important to study why some services work and other similar ones failFred

  18. Jesse Chenard

    Most of the platform providers do have some level of customization built right in. My company, Tremor Media, has some interesting solutions and I know one of our partners BrightCove takes it even a couple steps further with their API. What are you trying to accomplish? That will really dictate the number of providers who can potentially provide you with service. Depending on how customized/integrated you want you might wind up just building it yourself and cobble together the service providers you need yourself (CMS, CDN, etc).

  19. lynne

    Well there is quite a bit of content here with more points than I can probably begin to touch on. However at the core – putting out video and getting “something” back from it can be promising. If done correctly by keeping it short – sweet – to the point – entertaining. Simply adding video to your site will leave you with anywhere from a 5 – 500 percent increase. But it does seem that that for successful video it needs to look professional. I think the hardest part about incorporating video from a business standpoint is tracking visitors and conversion efficiently. So far I have found TubeMogul to be the most advantageous but still not the best time saver. I do find it helpful that you can track competitors even though they can track you in the same sense. I do still find myself using multiple avenues (one for tracking, one for submitting…etc) which if there was a real “guru” out there that took the time to take on this rapidly evolving internet environment…they would break the banks…and I am sure I would be a customer. I am not sure if the starters get too diluted when faced with money or if this market is just too out of control. In any sense, there are so many vantage points and venues that can be embarked upon it will be a while before we really start to see effective manageability of the video stream. great points from a lot of posts…I had to do quite a bit of reading but it was worth it.

  20. bharath

    The attention problem that Fred talks about is very real and it seems that the only solution may be having sites serving content that caters to specific verticals. There are quite a lot of startups that do this already and here is our attempt — an Indian music community:www.uhooroo.comIt might seem that a website that focuses on Indian music is a little to niche to be a sustainable business. But we happen to think that targeting a country of a billion people who take their music very seriously and who are enjoying some of the highest Internet growth rates in the world represents a significant market opportunity. I am sure similar arguments can be made for other vertical video/content sites as well.

  21. Steven Rosenbaum

    it’s really interesting to read both your quotes and Howard Lindzen’s about video. Both smart guys. Both early in video. Both had some early success. And now the future seems to be blurry.Here’s my take.You’re both right.The space is getting bigger, video is quickly being glued on to social networks, mobile devices, flat screen TV’s, ecommerce… the list goes on and on.So – looking for the ‘killer app’ gets harder and harder to do. At the same time, we’ve all got TV and the model we’ve grown up with looming in front of us. So trying to figure out how to make Ustream or Kyte or Seesmic into TV is daunting. Because it can’t be done.But that’s good. It shouldn’t be done.TV sucks. It’s slow, mass-media, one-size fits all media that is going to either evolve or die. Web video does however rock. And will only rock more as the tools get easier, the bandwidth more ubiquitous and the devices that play nice more and more friendly with each other.Here’s why you need to stay engaged in video Fred. 1). it needs you. – it can be used for good or evil. 2). It’s a huge business that needs innovation to be rewarded 3). The good ideas aren’t all gone, they’re just getting started. 4). We’re all in this together.Video is the new FM radio before music was bought up by conglomerates. Rock on.

    1. fredwilson

      “video is the new FM”i hope you enjoyed my of montreal vide steve

  22. jackson

    “hundreds of new online video companies have launched with thousands of programs, business models, tools and services. The result…it has never been cheaper to make, distribute and analyze video content, BUT, never been harder to get attention.”The same can be said of music.Nothing has really changed, it’s still all about location. If you can manage to get your content on a hot property you have a much better chance than simply having a myspace page.

    1. fredwilson

      Your buddy george’s songs are greatI posted on on my blog and it was better received than many more popular artistsMaybe we should try to break him in the music blogsFred

  23. howardlindzon

    wow – great conversation. Glad I helped get it started and fred was goodd enough to continue it. I have much more to say on it.Need to be clear about a few things.I don’t believe in luck, but sometimes good things happen if you position yourself properly. Web video is a tidal wave. You position yourself propely and you can get swept along. I think if you swim with the big streams long enough, you come out ahead. Salmon swim upstream just to die. Does not seem to pay to be a salmon.Content s the most wicked hard thing I have ever done. God bless you content creators, but other than my blog I dont think I could do it again.Just because wallstrip sold and I love it, does not mean I know squat about content, video, or anything. Great team, I think a great idea and a passionate community, and good timing.Rob Long – excellent stuff. I guess I need to hear your pitch. I cant resist.Jackson – so right on about location…but you might as well throw in connections and luck than. The web is definitely helping us along with tools and tricks to find the good stuff . The tools are getting us tricked too which I guess is a cost. no free lunch.Chartreuse – Good to see your face on disqus. I think I took that picture.Jim Luderback – so right. When I was in the computer software business, shmoozing the comp usa buyer was WHAT YOU DID! The iTunes people loved wallstrip and it helped. period! It’s stuff like you are saying though that they can’t teach you in school. It’s called moxy and hustle and common sense.

  24. Adam Martin

    Jeff & Co.I’m Head of Interactive at Ricky Gervais’ agency in London and currently looking to leverage top tier talent and create and distribute new content online. I go to VC’s (well 2 VC’s!) and pitch creating a fund for developing online IP around the brand talent we manage and the have access to, they say ‘we can do this without the brands’, I go to the brand managers and they say ‘we can do this without the VC’s’ – the content is the same, the packaging and deal structure is different, do we create Funny or Die vacuum packed into a widget or an advert with original shortform content for Brand X – the later has an immediate financial pay off, the former is a longer term play and requires on going production and management and thus investment. But we could get bought by CBS or cursed by AOL, I say!I liked Rob’s comments earlier about finding video online as ‘like taking a drink from a firehouse’ (do you mean firehose?), the dump it on You Tube and expect people to find it is no business model at all. As evinced by Will Ferrell, leveraging top tier talent and associating it with a micro-network is one way to get the audiences attention.We watch a terrestrial channel because it reflects our content aesthetic, BBC Three is Watch Me Shoot My Overweight Cat and Loose 30 Pounds etc etc type of programming, I know where I am with it when I switch it on – so where are the video channels replicating that viewer/content interaction? Revision3, for beer swilling geeks, sure… but that’s it, that and How To – in a time of mass production, we need filtered viewing and beyond secret sauce algorithms reading my social stream and telling me what an ex-girlfriend I really shouldn’t be friends with on Facebook is watching with her budgie Tony – I want a human editor, I want a trusted voice, so let’s go and create some.

    1. adammartin

      Anyone in London and wants to talk further about the online video space, I’ll shout them a fruity herbal beverage and wheat based side order. amartin {at}

    2. fredwilson

      Here here AdamAnyone who works with Ricky Gervais is a very welcome guest (maybe permanentmember?) of this community. I’ll be in London later this year. I’d love tomeet. If you come to NYC, please look me up.Let’s go and create some, indeedFred

      1. MMG

        Great thread. As a TV/Web exec producer going back to the “1.0” days I completely agree with Fred that is has never been cheaper to produce and distribute video than now. Just the other day, I ran some numbers regarding live streaming and it is almost free thanks to the crop of new companies offering those services.The problem I forsee is a lack of understanding: tech heads understand distribution and UI but don’t really understand “old school” television technique. It’s all about platforms and “scale” but rarely entertainment value. TV guys, on the other hand, have the discipline required to create great storytelling and so forth, but seldom understand how to leverage the cost-effective nature of “web 2.0” tech.Lucky for us, we’re in the business of bridging both and I’m sure many others are doing the same. It’s just a matter of time before a bonafide hit opens up the floodgates.MMG

  25. preetam

    Hey guys,Great post and some excellent comments. I am in the online video space. We’re working on two things: a pure tech play(marcellus-saas video platform) and a content play( a paltform for film), the latter currently in beta.Let me start with mirroring: “I think online video continues to be a very difficult place to be an entrepreneur..”. Yes, it is.If you are an amateur(either producing amateur content, or with an amateurish attitude towards online video distribution), you go to YouTube. If you are a rich pocket publisher, and you want to build your own platform, you go to Brightcove. The problem is that these platforms solve the problem of publishing, not monetizable distribution, and definitely not attention allocation. YouTube, in fact, works against the principles of hyper-efficient attention allocation….56 million videos….do you spend your time searching, or watching?Likewise, folks like Brightcove do a super job of delivering high quality video, but then delivering high quality video is not really a challenge anymore. We do it, and we do it very cheap.I’m not sure that heading to Etsy et al. solves the problem. There is no dearth of eyeballs on the web- there is a dearth of understanding on how to reach out to those eyeballs, and how to ensure retention of those eyeballs. To me/us, the answer lies in deep engagement. The whole promise of the Internet was that it claimed to re-define interactive television. And we haven’t really seen any re-definition. Ratings/sharing/commenting is somewhat passe.Deep engagement involves helping the user take your content, establish a personal context with it, and then share that {content context} construct on a number of different places she visits. A simple example: users create playlists on a number of different video web sites, but no one’s really made full use of the nascent potential that exists when a user pro-actively chooses videos she enjoys, creates and defines a very personal meaning around them, and places them on very specific destinations where she knows that content will be well received. (A user heads to WeareIndia.TV, creates a “Human Rights Issues for Immigrant Indians” playlist, shares the playlist on Blogger, a Facebook page on the same subject, and on her MySpace page as well. Without copying and pasting code. And without having to re-do the integration every time she adds a new clip to the playlist. This new (player playlist) construct should then be re-distributable, monetizable(say with overlay text/video ads) wherever it travels, and fully trackable during its journeys across the edge network.)No one’s really into this stuff. We did a lot of work researching the efficacies and nuances of social behavior in my days at Garage Cinema, UC Berkeley, but unfortunately, I don’t see any folks in the marketplace(and I’m sorry to report, not a whole lot of venture capitalists either) that seem to have given too much thought on how fundamentally different Internet TV is from regular TV. You can’t really build a business model without a solid understanding of the value chain, economics and behavioral patterns of the 10-inch experience. The last mile problem, which used to be the challenge of efficiently delivering content to the home at a price point better than say 5 other competitors, has now evolved into the last foot problem, which is the challenge of delivering content to each individual user, while competing with, say, a thousand other competitors, at minimum.There is some higher-than-usual noise(well, hype) about keywords like “economics”, “transformation”, and heavily funded companies like Brightcove are very guilty of it. For those that look to Brightcove as the de facto online video play(and there’s no end to that list), releases like these:… are very misleading. I wish adding google-adsense could transform the economics of online video(because we’ve done it too), but it doesn’t.I have 3 perspectives on success in this space, and what might actually transform the business of Internet video:- sustainability: you need to be able to demonstrate profitability from low audience volumes. Before you scale your offering, you need to have your operational and financial strategy down. It’s basic, but unfortunately not what a lot of startups focus on. Instead, the conversation goes something like : “let’s pretty it up, get it out in front of as many people as possible, build a decent registered-user base, and sell.”- elasticity: content may be king, but we are now dealing with over a million kingdoms(fragmented mass markets). As a content owner, you need to be able to create frameworks so that your users can take your king and rule their own little kingdom with it. That’s the democratization we’ve been talking about- enabling consumers turn into distributors, and producers.- personalization: not collaborative filtering, but actual personalization. Make it opt-in(so people don’t slit your throat for violating their privacy), understand the context (who/where/when/why) of content consumption for each individual user, and deliver personalized recommendations with natural learning systems built it. It worked for Amazon and e-commerce, it worked for Netflix and online DVD rentals, and it has to work for Internet video platforms. The approach needs to be different, specific to the meta-structure used to describe different sets of media, but that’s about it. No one’s really done anything about this either.Okay- didn’t mean for this to be so long. But I was (pleasantly) provoked, so thought this’d be a good place to say hello, we’re going to be looking for venture capital soon, and Fred..I hope you find in us the inspiration you seek.