Why I'd Like To Be In SF On June 23rd

If there was one event I'd like to be at next week it would be the "people's choice awards" on Tuesday night at 7pm at Mezzanine in San Francisco. It's actually not called "the people's choice awards", it's called the Boxee Dev Challenge.

But I call it the "people's choice awards" because Boxee is going to show what happens when you let the viewers determine what channels they want on their TV. Instead of the "500 channels and nothing's on" programming that the cable companies deliver, Boxee is going to show what hackers working on open source software for your TV can do in less than a month.

Here's a taste of it:

The Amie Street channel
The Any Clip channel

The We Are Hunted channel (my personal favorite)
The National Film Board channel
The WatchUWant channel
The PokerStars channel
The Twitter channel
The Movie Times channel
The Local Video channel
The Radio Controlled Devices channel
The ABC7 News (KGO) channel
The Twitter/YouTube/News channel (another favorite)
The Videogames channel
The BBC channel
The Mozy Backup Your Media channel
The Ethnic TV channel
The I Can Has Cheeseburger channel
The Cobra Snake channel
The Open Courseware channel (talk about hacking education!)
The UK Open University channel
The L8R channel (watch later project)
The C Dans L'Air channel
The Bass Fishing channel
The Boxee Queue channel (watch later project)
The Weather channel
The Daily Kitten channel
The HotForWords channel
The Guild channel
The Facebook Photos channel
The Drop.io channel
The White House channel

and that is just what has been submitted so far. There's another five days left in the contest so I expect the final list will be twice as long.

Imagine if your set top box had an "app store" like the iPhone has. That's what Boxee is all about. You put Boxee on your TV and let hackers around the world build channels and you pick which ones you want on your TV.

That future vision will be on display full tilt next Tuesday night in SF. If the turnout is anything like the Webster Hall Boxee meetup this spring in NYC, it will be one hell of a fun night. And so I am totally bummed that I can't be there. I hope you can.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. paulhart

    The folks at Boxee have created a great platform, and opening up the API has been a fantastic way to show off its power.

  2. allenlaudenslager

    Just looked at the Boxee site and there is no explination of what it is, how it works, or why I should use it. That’s a really bad site!

    1. fredwilson

      another reason to attend the June 23rd event. a new boxee.tv too!

    2. adambossy

      It’s funny you say this. I’ve had trouble explaining exactly what Boxee is to several friends. To programmer friends, I say it’s a platform that makes your set-top box hackable, and to non-programmer friends, I say it’s like a Web browser for your TV.

      1. fredwilson

        Those are my two lines as well

  3. Tim Ogilvie

    I think this is great, but what I really want is the “stuff you and your friends will like” channel. Is anybody building that combo of social networking & machine learning?

    1. fredwilson

      that’s native in the boxee software

    2. adambossy

      We’re doing this with WatchUWant.tv. We’re focused more on the collective community than simply your friends. That will be further down the road for us.

      1. Tim Ogilvie

        In general, I want my friends’ stuff. I know that Two and a Half Men is the most popular sitcom, and that every geek seems to like anime, but I don’t really like those shows and neither do most of my non-internet friends. I want to find more arrested developments, freaks & geeks, etcI’m not able to download the client (windows), but apparently there’s more in the software that does this. I’m excited!

  4. charliepinto

    We know a possible set-top box is in the works; but will cable/telecomm companies put restrictions on the full fuctionality of Boxee?

    1. adambossy

      It’s unlikely, as that would violate the very reason boxee exists in the first place. How would you get an XBMC app on a set-top box, anyway?

      1. charliepinto

        Set-top boxes as a physical platform would have to evolve. Just like the cell phone has evolved to stream live video. Personally, I love watching video on my TV. I just wish I could queue up a line of videos and have at it when I feel like watching.

    2. fredwilson

      I sure hope not

  5. Kiran

    I was there for the first Boxee SF meetup but I bet this is going to be lot more exciting. I cannot be there either for the next week meetup but I am sure going to checkout all the apps.

  6. kevinmurphy

    Yesterday I moved Boxee up to the top of my to do list and spent and hour fumbling (literally) around with it. Fred, your “app store” comparison for TV is right on. What a tectonic shift in the delivery platform for “new media”.Those of you unfamiliar with Boxee (www.boxee.tv) fumble around with it a bit, I assure you it will be worth your while. You will like their platform and the ease it provides in managing ALL of your content. Just like any new technology, allow yourself to gradually become immersed in it.

    1. fredwilson

      i sure wish “fumble around” wasn’t the description of the “out of the box”experiencethat means we need to do more work

      1. kevinmurphy

        i will be sure to quickly point out that the “fumble” really has more to do with me than Boxee!I did look around a very briefly for a product manual of some sorts- with no luck…

        1. ShanaC

          I know the feeling- I do that all the time with a lot of physical and mediated items.I’m reading a lot of Donald Norman- I don’t think it is you Kevin. Items should be innate to use.Items should also be designed so that you discover their uses, and designed for an emotional attachment. It is extraordinarily difficult. I wish Boxee and most start-ups much luck (though the field is progressing a lot since my first interaction with a computer.) You might be running into excessive bugs, your own fears, our just excessive complications for what you think is seemingly simple activity, or just how humans process basic information. The Design of Everyday Things became a manifesto for a reason, since it outlines a way out of the complexity of bad design.And definitely- we might want to start giving up partially for a little bit on the idea computers thinking like us. Definitely the best explanation of why computer-human interfaces can go wretchedly is the funny conversation in the back of The Design of Future Things. Finding the bridge between the two- alas- is something unclear to me at this moment in time.

  7. kirklove

    This is great for Boxee and Boxee users. And the tip of the tip of the iceberg at that. I love Boxee and its open, aggregated media structure, which I like to call user-accessed video or UV, despite the fact it’s buggy as hell (granted it’s Alpha) and has a really poor user interface.My question to you, Fred, as someone who is so ahead of the curve you’ve circled around and are looking at your own back, when do you see something like Boxee being adopted by the mainstream? 3 years? 5 years? Longer? My guess is somewhere between 5 and 10. And I mean something that doesn’t require hacks or jumping through hoops to get it to work on say an ATV? Rather like TV plop down push a button and voila – instant gratification. (Despite its many weaknesses regular TV still wins this one hands down).In the end, the real winner in UV will be the site or service that can organize this amazing yet overwhelming deluge of content the way the user wants it, make digestible sense of it, and deliver it quickly and pain free. Nice to see Boxee is tapping into the community to get there. Kudos to them and the developers for their hard work.

    1. fredwilson

      I think it happens way sooner. if boxee is going to be one of the primary interfaces to make that happen, they’ll have to clean up the code and simplify the UI. I can assure you they are working super hard on both and my money is on them (as you well know)

  8. ShanaC

    Boxee, once they get together and learn to quickly decode for the average TV user who does not have a powerful CPU and graphics card on hand, will have one of the best databases of TV viewing preferences in the US, and the world.That is immensely powerful in the current advertising market. They’ll likely be able to pinpoint by market the type of vers who are watching each kind of show and when. Great for the people who believe in product placement. I get why Hulu is running scared.

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. But let’s keep that quiet please

  9. Mark Kinsey


  10. bombtune

    Format shifting provides music companies like Amie Street to hit a new audience. The TV is still the largest marketing treasure but how many people are buying Boxees. Why aren’t the cable companies hooking making Internet connected TVs?

    1. fredwilson

      Its all coming. You’ll be able to get a boxee device soon enough

  11. Chuck Fishman

    You will find me there. Thanks for the heads up. Chuck Fishman

    1. fredwilson


  12. boxee on tv

    This will certainly send a chill up big medias spine. Especially when they find out that folks are watching on their TV: PCTVCables.com