Blog Post

The Play

Rodrigo Sepulveda Schulz, a fellow blogger and broadband fanatic, is either a very brave man or has a plan. He has started, a new online video company based in France, along with his cofounder Ivan Communod. After bootstrapping it for nearly eight months, has raised a whopping $5.1 million in series A financing led by Innovacom.

The company allows users to upload videos, edit them online, and also publish them to different sites such as MySpace or eBay. In addition, advertising is built into the system, so the users can monetize their content more effectively. It also makes the content available over the wireless networks on user handsets, a particularly clever idea since 3G networks are becoming common place in Europe. Of course there are download options for PSP and iPod devices. (Mike has screenshots!)

Brave, because there are about 200-odd video companies out there, including AOL, Google, and Yahoo (planned) who just want your uncut, amateur videos. Of course, we all know how big You Tube is! So why jump into the fray? Seeking these answers, it was time to call Rodrigo and find out more about his game plan.

“We are trying to be less like YouTube, and more like Brightcove,” he explains. In other words, he will be the “web service” that powers the sites of other players with traffic. For instance, the company is now hosting and managing videos for, which is currently focused on what else but, Cannes Film Festival. He wouldn’t talk about other (pending) deals.

Rodrigo succinctly points out that they are all battling it out in the US market, while he is going to play in his sandbox for now – Europe – before casting an eye on distant shores. “I know the market and I know the players, so it is prudent to focus here for now,” he says. He is betting that there is room for one big video play in Europe. He does have a point there, though I wonder if the world is truly flat, thanks to the Internet, why do start-ups have to be parochial? Regardless, his backer, Frédéric Humbert of Innovacom seems to have the same point of view. (He had backed Kelkoo which was sold €475m to Yahoo! two years ago, and Kelkoo became the #1 player in the Euroweb.)

17 Responses to “The Play”

  1. Brad,

    if Virage is your benchmark then you recognize there is a long long way to go to make online video publishing and search effective: advanced automatic analysis and computer vision tools should be built into popular publishing tools and made usable the web2.0 way -via browser.

    We have been making some basic step in this direction (automatic scene segmentation via FFmpeg in lulop2 open source, ,, , direction I think you would agree to in terms of the universal law quoted in your “Capture vs Derive” post

    From your privileged point of view as Virage founder and Yahoo researcher, what is your opinion the likelihood that a viral “virage” can be built on standard web tools ? and if so, on how much money, Riya-like funding can be enuff or more than enuff ?

  2. Dunno if will make this work, but acting as a service provider is definitely one way to go… The company I cofounded (Virage) did this about seven years ago… Obviously waaaay early! But we “powered” the video experiences on CNET, Major League Basebal, ABCnews, CSPAN, etc… The brains behind this effort (that we called Virage Interactive) were Joe Hyrkin and Dave Girouard (now of Google Enterprise Search.)

  3. Jackson

    Please! France? Give me a break!
    Labor laws prohibit any serious business entity from establishing itself there these days.

    As for Kelkoo, shopping/price comparison is different – far more region specific than online video publishing/editing. Look at YouTube, which already airs tons of videos from all over the world.
    Traffic matters and YouTube has it. It’s not game over, but it’s getting close. YouTube can easily integrate the features plans to offer – perhaps as a professional service which they can charge for.

  4. I agree with Om that online video based field is too crowded. Some of them are just a clone and others has few different features. But, bottom line is that it’s difficult to survive in that environment for smaller player.

    For the same reason, we started to work on the area of “social video/music bookmarking”. User can search for Google Videos, Yahoo Videos, YouTube videos etc from the uLinkx site and add (bookmark) to their playlist. we call this “DYNAMIC” bookmarking , where you search videos/music and instantly bookmark it. If someone prefer to browse the YouTube, Google Videos themself and find the content then they can use “uLinkx It” bookmarklet to bookmark those contents.

    Later user can share their playlist with friends, vote on other’s playlist (It will add it to their favorites), discovered other users contents, make friends, watch users playlist and many more…

    Music playlist can be played on user’s favorites music player.

    We call it “Social Media Organizer”, media hub for your online media.

    As it is in very early BETA phase, any help/feedback/suggestions are appreciated.

    Best Regards,
    uLinkx Team.

  5. As I mentioned in my comments following the YouTube clones post, this publishing platform play is smart business. Site traffic is way overrated. It’s a narrowminded goal and a fleating competitive advantage for a startup. The / / approach of optimizing a destination-agnostic video publishing platform, especially one that empowers everyone, including the weekend couch director, to monetize their creativity, is dead on. Everyone seems to want (and believe that they deserve) a slice of viral video fame. A tiny fraction of the video sharing ecosystem ever will, but the publishing platform that powers and monetizes their 15 minutes will win big. The C2C digital video marketplace is upon us. Perhaps eBay is taking note.