@ SxSW: Interview: Daniel Graff; Kyte Vs. The World; More Than Just Video Streaming

IMG_1113Kyte has been very visible at SxSW Interactive. Literally: Its live streams are on monitors all around the convention center. And of course the impressive amounts of cash its raised — $21.1 million from a series of big name backers — has ensured a stream of buzz. But there’s more to Kyte than live and mobile streaming, as CEO Daniel Graf proudly explained to me during an interview inside the noisy exhibition hall. Whereas the company’s commonly identified competitors (Ustream, etc.) focus largely on streaming video, Kyte is building, in Graf’s words, the ‘super-widget’.

B2B focus: While Kyte offers basic consumer video services, its primary thrust is its business-facing communications platform, hence the backing from various carriers, including Swisscom, NTT DoCoMo (NYSE: DCM) and Telefonica (NYSE: TEF), along with Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Holtzbrinck and now Disney’s (NYSE: DIS) Steamboat ventures. Graf: “We are an enabling platform, not a destination.” And what do these carriers get out of partnering with Kyte? “One the one hand they get branded content… (and) they’re going to enable UGC content.” He specifically mentioned the rapper 50 Cent about 7 or 8 times during the interview, showing various ways that 50 was using Kyte to interact with fans. (Sidenote: at one of last night’s party’s, someone told me that 50 Cent was really big on Ning, so he’s obviously pretty hip to the world of web startups).

Disney: As noted, Steamboat is an investor, and Graf indicated that the plan is for Disney to use Kyte’s platform for delivering content, although at the moment, there’s nothing official to announce there.

Competition: As noted above, Kyte wants to be a much fuller experience than other sites doing livestreaming, but its sights are set higher than that: “We do slideshows like Slide, but they don’t do mobile video… we do mobile video streaming like Qik, we do mobile uploads like Shozu. We do mobile chatting like Meebo.” Naturally, he rejected the idea that Kyte might be getting over-extended. “What the brands want… they don’t want five widgets they want one super-widget..”

The cash: “We’re building a monetization engine on top… as you can imagine, like a 50 Cent… he has a massive network where you can run ads… the second thing is premium subscriptions: so like a fan channel where you pay $5 bucks a month.” He noted that the service will allow companies to plug in various ad servers (et. al) into Kyte. The other major use of the money is internationalization.