Ever since Blake Krikorian left Sling Media, the place shifting startup that he sold to Echostar for $380 million in September 2007, he’s been lying low. Instead of trying to build yet another startup, he has been spending time trying to put together a killer home entertainment system that uses HDMI-over-fiber, dozens of iPod touch devices and many Apple displays spread across his home. “It will either be a great thing or my family will hate me,” Krikorian joked when he stopped by in our office last week. This do-it-yourself project is a way for him to think about what he will do next.
And as he waits for inspiration to strike, Krikorian is going to join the board of directors of Clicker.com, a Los Angeles-based online-video content discovery company started by Jim Lanzone, the former CEO of Ask.com. He is also going to make a minority investment in the company; a news announcement is likely to be made later this week.
Clicker is backed by veteran venture capitalists Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital and Geoff Yang of Redpoint Ventures, who have invested close to $8 million in the company. Clicker is going to be unveiling its service to the world at our NewTeeVee Live conference, which will be held on Nov. 12 in San Francisco. (To buy tickets for the conference, click here. ) Liz covered the company in The Best Guides to Watching TV Online.
“About two months ago, I started talking to Jim about Clicker and fell in love with the service,” Krikorian said. “I had no plans to be on any boards or work with any startups, even though I get asked often.” Blake said that he became a fanboy and saw the obvious need for a service such as Clicker.
In the traditional TV universe, with finite number of distribution channels, TV Guide did quite well, because it laid out available content as a grid, that could easily be thumbed through as a guide. In his research report, The Future of Pay Services, GigaOM Pro analyst Steve Hawley points to several efforts being made to streamline content discovery in the old television space. Online video is even more complex.
In the broadband world, where there is one giant distribution channel, the Internet, video discovery becomes a vexing problem. As more and more video becomes available on the web, discoverability of content becomes as important as publishing of video content. That was Lanzone’s basic premise when he described his company to me many months ago. There are quite a few efforts under way to solve this problem, as outlined by Chris in his GigaOM Pro feature (subscription required), but Clicker has proved to be a critical hit among its beta testers.
At the same time, Lanzone has to know that he is swimming with the sharks. The cable companies, content owners and TV networks are frenemies — allies at some times and mortal enemies at others. Krikorian has been through these same ups and downs with SlingMedia, and perhaps that is why Lanzone is excited to get him in his corner.
Lanzone, of course, doesn’t know what he has signed up for: Krikorian is going to be sending his team bug reports and product suggestions!