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IM Hollywood Snippets with PopTok

PopTok wants to expand your IM and email communication beyond “:)”s and “LOLs” with snippets from popular movies, TV shows and music. The service, which goes into private beta today, has licensed content from major studios and chopped it up into little tiny 2 – 5 second bits, or “toks,” to try and capture every sentiment you might be feeling.

For example, instead typing “hello” to kick off an IM conversation, you could send the recipient Austin Powers saying “Hello hello.” PopTok has more than 2,000 clips to choose from, and expects to have 10,000 by the full launch this fall.

Currently the service is PC only, and works with AOL, Yahoo and Windows IM clients. It does require the PopTok software download for both parties in order to work to the fullest. If only the sender has PopTok installed, the recipient will receive a link to watch the video.

The company has been developing the product over the last year, has 36 employees spread out over Israel and New York and received and undisclosed sum of seed funding from Jerusalem Venture Partners and GTI Group.

PopTok also announced today that Scott Kauffman is joining the company as President and CEO. Kauffman comes to PopTok from Yahoo, which bought BlueLithium in late 2007, where he served as president and COO. In a phone interview Kauffman said one of his first objectives is to mount a campaign for Series A funding.

The company plans to generate revenue through display advertising, sponsorship deals with studios and music labels, and by taking a cut of sales of movies, TV shows and music it drives to e-commerce destinations.

PopTok believes that it can extend the way folks weave pop culture-speak into verbal conversations into the IM world. But a business built around catch phrases — just like catch phrases themselves — seems like it would get irritating quickly. Though I’m probably not their target demographic, the thought of someone sending me a snippet from Austin Powers actually makes me cringe (and then want to pop the sender so they’ll never tok to me again).

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