Blog Post

Former Joost CEO Gets New Gig as VC

joostFormer Joost CEO Mike Volpi already has a new gig lined up. He’ll be a venture partner at Index Ventures, which was part of the group that pumped $45 million into the little web TV startup that could (but didn’t).

Joost announced last week that it was changing focus from offering premium content in order to become (yet another) white-label video provider. As part of that strategic shift, Volpi stepped down as CEO but remains chairman of the company. Volpi has a long history with Index as he invested $10 million in the firm’s first fund while he was an exec at Cisco (s CSCO). According to the press announcement, Volpi will be “based in the London office as part of the venture team where he will lead early stage investments in the Internet, telecom/networking and media sectors and contribute to the firm’s later stage growth fund.”

Kara Swisher at All Things D has an interview with Volpi about the latest move, where he offers up a few more details about Joost. On the company’s failure to be a premium content player, he said, “At the end of the day, the consumer offering we had was not working, a lot because we did not have enough access to content we needed to build traffic.” Volpi justified Joost’s move into the highly competitive world of white-label video by saying, “It is better to be competing in a sector that has profitable rivals than one that does not.” He said Joost had discussions with possible acquirers, but those didn’t pan out because of price issues. “Not everyone wanted to pay a lot to own Joost, but a lot of people wanted to rent it,” he said.

Hopefully, Volpi will be able to take the failure of Joost in stride and pass on his experience of what not to do as a startup to the companies Index invests in.

11 Responses to “Former Joost CEO Gets New Gig as VC”

  1. HardyHar

    Volpi you’re an utter failure. You failed to lead the company like a good CEO should. You Don’t know how to run a startup period. It had nothing to do with the content. Pandora doesn’t have every music title out there but that company is still doing well so what’s you’re problem? you’re a manager who should stay in management.
    INDEX ventures a VC I will never ever ever touch and when my startup hommies talk to me I will say to stay away.
    Volpi go read a book on marketing you lamer.

  2. GoPeter

    LIz/Chris: thanks for an open and frank response. Whether Joost, Hulu or any other startup, it’s important to recognize that these are long, iterative plays and the freedom to practice trial and error is important. I fear that the tech blog community is so black and white in their commentary (hate “fail!”) that it stifles that freedom and reduces innovation. As an entrepreneur, you feel like a) someone is crowning a world series champ after every pitch of the regular season and b) you are forced to focus on intensely PR. Blogs like NewTeeVee provide a great service to the startup community, but also risk playing a negative role in the same community it serves. Joost is an extreme example perhaps, but as you say a good learning opportunity nonetheless. Thank you.

  3. GoPeter

    Chris, Peter has a point. Doubt you’re filled with hate, but the tech blog community contributed both to driving Joost’s hype and then once they inevitably stumbled ate them alive for it and made them a toxic asset, basically making a come back very difficult. There’s been plenty of commentary on where Joost went wrong, but not peep one from bloggers on how they contributed. Not saying it’s the presses fault, Joost has to take responsibility, but am saying the press contributed. Would be interesting to get your take on that.

    • @ GoPeter — I too have been thinking about the press’ role as things have played out. I do think Joost had a particularly bad ride on the hype cycle. At the core it comes back to the fame and track record of its founders — there just seemed to be so much potential. And nothing they did was all that bad of an idea; clearly, the original concept has found a home in other companies.

      But I do think it’s a good lesson to be conscious of our own roles, and I’m glad you pointed it out.

    • Chris Albrecht

      Hey Peter,

      I’m glad you commented. Like Liz, I think Joost provides an excellent opportunity to reflect about our role not just with Joost but with any trend/story we cover. You could say the opposite was true for Hulu. Lots of people (myself included) were perhaps overly skeptical of it before it launched and the company proved us wrong (so far) and opinions evolved with it. Ultimately, I just want to be fair and honest.

  4. Andreas

    If the report is true, he is to become a VENTURE partner, which normally means that he will get carried interest only for the deals that HE brings to the VC firm.

  5. Chris Albrecht

    Hey Peter,

    I don’t think I’m filled with hate. Failure isn’t always bad. I do question the move into white label since there are so many players in that space. But I sincerely hope Volpi can take what he’s learned and pass it on.

  6. Peter Larson

    I wonder where all the anger towards Joost comes from? They tried something and got beaten by companies that either have all the content in the world or all the distribution. (besides endless amount of cash). So they didnt change the world or become a new skype – but at least they tried. Probably helped change an industry too. So Chris, stop being such a hater – its really makes you look like a bitter blogger and not a serious journalist.