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You really get the sense from CBS and Viacom that Joost is their forgotten stepchild. Despite their participation in Joost’s $45 million funding round (which in amount alone guarantees the company should have some time to figure out what it’s doing), the companies’ executives have to be pressed in interviews to even bring up the Internet TV software company, making it more of a has-been than it is already with its disappointing user adoption and inferior content library.
Though CBS Interactive president Quincy Smith loves to talk about new opportunities for online television, the only time you hear Joost come up is in a list of CBS investments or of its 300-some Audience Network distribution partners.
Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman could barely manage a compliment for Joost in an interview with paidContent yesterday, and indicated that Viacom won’t participate in Joost’s second round.
On Joost: Viacom was an original investor in the much-hyped video service from the founders of Skype. Is the service where he thought it would be? ”We come at Joost or other platforms from the point of view that we cannot predict — nor did we in that case or any other case — predict which ones are going to be hugely successful, moderately successful, which won’t work. … We root for all the distribution platforms because the more of them there are, the more exposure our content has.” As for Joost, says Dauman, “They’ve been trying different things. They’ve been tweaking the model but we’ve certainly been happy with the relationship.” But will Viacom take part in the start-up’s second round? Doesn’t sound like it. Dauman: “We did receive equity in connection with our original deal and we’re happy where we are. … I don’t think it’s fair to them for me to comment.”
Meanwhile, Joost is working on Plan B, a web app. In order to manage peer-to-peer downloads it will reportedly require a downloaded plug-in (as most high-quality TV streaming tools do). Once Flash includes P2P that could be a different story — though don’t forget Flash is a plug-in too.
Joost’s other investors include Skype founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström (who of course also founded Joost), top-tier venture capital firms Index Ventures and Sequoia Capital, and Hong Kong entrepreneur Li Ka-shing.