As evening began at the NewTeeVee conference in San Francisco today, some big money movers weighed in on the video industry. Allen Delattre, managing director of Electronics and High Technology at Accenture, moderated a panel discussion featuring a number of heavy-hitters from the venture capital community. They included:
- Bill Gurley, general partner, Benchmark Capital
- Chris Hollenbeck, managing director,Granite Ventures
- David Horowitz, managing director, Comcast Interactive Capital
- Dan Beldy, managing director, Steamboat Ventures
The last event of the day was one of the most interesting, and the VCs were mostly positive about the prospects for online video.
“Five years ago very few people were watching video online,” said Horowitz, in response to a question about why the venture capital community should care about the video space. “Now you’ve got YouTube and billions of streams per month. I think 10 years from now we’ll find other places to watch video.”
Also sounding a positive note, Beldy said that “even in a recession, broadband isn’t what people cut,” and noted that they’ll continue to consume online video despite financial challenges.
“When Hulu and Boxee got together, they woke up all the giants,” noted Benchmark Capital’s Gurley. “Since that day, everyone has been paying attention and people with billions of dollars are starting to march around.” Online video giant Hulu’s content was the most popular format on the open-source media center platform Boxee, when Hulu suddenly asked to have its content removed from Boxee. Since then, Boxee users have employed workarounds to continue to watch it. Gurley also alluded to Hulu possibly being forced toward a subscription-based model for its content, although his comment was vague.
There was a lot of talk about mobile applications focused on video. “One interesting thing about mobility is that I think it creates new viewing hours,” said Hollenbeck from Granite Ventures, which is backing makers of iPhone apps, among others. “That mobile device is with you all the time.”
Gurley also noted that technologies associated with computing are moving rapidly into digital entertainment devices. “Ethernet and some form of OS and a menu stack are being put in every TV, every DVD player, and every game machine,” he said. “Those of us who are old enough remember when that same thing happened on the phone stack. It’s going to be fun to watch. ”