Wednesday, September 17, 2008



Not exactly a photography related review, but some thoughts on an interesting video start-up, that recently underwent a change in focus from content/community to a video tool. Some info. on the company is below.

So yesterday, after a few days away from the video conversation site founded by Loic Le Meur,, I quickly found out that 3 of the producers who regularly ran interactive shows with product inventors as well as people making changes and heading up causes, regularly initiated new topics for discussion (this could get random quickly, but definitely drove up posts), welcomed newcomers, and basically grew the community, showed videos from their homes, while dining, driving, at concerts and while traveling, were laid off.

The private San Francisco based company’s site is in alpha, or pre-alpha, despite having had two successful rounds of funding, from institutional investors, as well as a very well connected set of influential angel investors including Atomico (Skype founders), Reid Hoffman, Steve Case, Jeff Clavier, Ron Conway, Michael Arrington and Pierre Omidyar and others. There’s an interesting article about some of these investors here:

Over the last three months, the site has undergone little change, and the majority of the posts were from a few dozen regulars. There were comments from employees that the occasional sluggishness of the site might soon be fixed as the underlying Flex and Flash based architecture might be replaced with more efficient programming and may compete with the video discussion site, and the employees were regular testing mobile client use using Nokia N95s.

Yesterday, or on Monday, the CEO and founder, Loic Le Meur, commented briefly that the site was focusing away from content, and to concentrate on being a “video conversation tool” and a new site to be launched soon. His video reply in the thread, which currently is one of many on the topic, and has over 120 replies is available here:

While I’ll miss the content and community angle that the producers initiated and implemented, which is what attracted me to the site initially, especially the random guitar lessons and playing, as well as reviews of things I had never heard of like batter blaster, pancakes that come from a pressurized can, whose inventor came on to be interviewed, the technology and its use as a tool for individuals and businesses is interesting to me. I’ve used digital video conferencing solutions on dedicated lines before video was widely used over the internet, and have used and watched the growth of internet video as bandwidth and codec quality increased with the Mbone (multicast backbone) which used IP multicast in the early ‘90s, and CU-SeeMe (later White Pine Software) which came out of Cornell in 1992, and later Netmeeting, Skype, and integration of webcam quality audio/video into the many IM programs which we have now.

Currently, both, and both require the Adobe Flash player, and both consume a lot of local resources, but to be honest, the video and audio quality is generally not any better than video conferencing that was used 20 years ago over dedicated 128kbit ISDN lines. In fact, it's no better than the average youtube clips, which begs the question of the business model as a video tool only. However, it’s free or cheap, and like voice over IP over the internet, it’s likely to get better, and Seesmic may be one of the companies to help make it better along with, Adobe, and other vendors providing tools and engines behind the front end.

Copyright 2008 Ted Matsumura, All Rights Reserved
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