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This week we were able to pin down Patrick Koppula to find out a little more about Vadver, his pre-launch video startup that we’d heard about through the grapevine. It turns out the company is building a video-discovery service that sounds somewhat similar to Mesmo.tv and Divvio, with the idea of using social connections to recommend online videos.
Vadver, which has four employees and was founded in January of this year, has raised $1.7 million in Series A funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
Over lunch, I told Koppula that as interesting as I think these recommendation services might be, I invariably resort to emailing and IMing links to funny videos to my family and friends. Smart Web tools are great and all, but convincing people to register is usually not worth it. Koppula replied that with the experience he gained as an employee and active advisor to social music startup iLike — which has a runaway hit Facebook application — he had some pretty good ideas about how to attract users. For instance, Vadver will make part of its application a game, as well as offer feedback about how a person’s tastes compare to those of others.
Koppula is starting out by building a consumer-facing Web page — a Facebook app and TiVo app and all the rest are, of course, in the pipeline as well. He has some pretty out-there ideas for improving the video viewing experience, for instance by developing an alternative browser that’s pimped out for video, a sort of “set-top box for the Web.” To that end, Vadver is hoping it might be able to persuade content producers to create 30-second sample video clips, a la digital music, so users can more easily scroll through their options before making a decision about investing their time (or even money).
While iLike — which by the way said on Monday it had cleared the 10 million user mark — is by no means an unqualified success, Koppula’s experience at the company — dating back to when it was called GarageBand and stalled out — could be a real boon for Vadver.
It’s not a one-to-one comparison, but Vadver can basically video-fy many of iLike’s tactics for the music space. And at the end of the day, just as we’ve seen for music, the science fair contest for the best video recommendation algorithm could well see its biggest challenge from someone who understands how to do the social part right.