At Le Web, Video is the Buzz

The first day of Le Web 3 was a bit of a blur. The jet lag compounded by complete lack of sleep and numerous cups of petit coffees have jumbled up all the conversations I had over the course of the day. One fact that stood out at the end of the work day: video is as hot in Europe as it is in the U.S.

I got a chance to hang out with co-founder Rodrigo Sepúlveda Schulz, who said that their foray into platform services has started to pay off and the company is close to announcing at least one major deal that will give them nice momentum going into 2008. faces competition from Brightcove, which recently shifted strategy and moved away from the consumer and is instead focusing on large media companies and their online video efforts.

While falls into the more established startups category, there were several other video startups pitching their stories. Quite a few of them were focusing on lifecasting video via mobile phones, à la Kyte. Floobs, a Helsinki-based startup, for instance is going to announce its beta in about two weeks. These videos can then be embedded in social networking profiles and other web pages. The plan is to offer a premium service along with the usual ad-supported service.

Lifecasting is getting to be a crowded business — Liz wrote about Qix earlier this week — and I have heard of another couple of companies that are trying to go after the market established by I had talked about this trend in my Business 2.0 column, Reach out and Twitter Someone.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the web is transforming itself from a medium of passive consumption to active interactions, and we are going to see many companies trying to make a business out of this.

Another company I met at the conference that is worth noting is Israel-based PLYMedia, which overlays web video with additional meta data. For instance, folks at Hulu could add data about various actors in “30 Rock” that’s visible when you mouse over or click on a part of the video. Of course, the most obvious use of this would be providing referral links. Talk about video commerce.

Looking beyond that, if you believe (and I do) that all video is going to eventually be delivered over IP networks, PLY Media can extend its technology to IPTV-based systems. PLY Media has a couple of competitors, including Jacked, which I am going to write about when I get back to San Francisco.

Signing off for today, but stay tuned: Tomorrow I have an interview with France’s greatest entrepreneur, founder Xavier Niel. For nearly 2.5 hours we talked broadband, what the next-generation Internet service provider looks like, and when we were done, he gave me the tour of his entire operation. And I must say, I was blown away!