5 Questions With…Livestream.com’s Max Haot

In our ongoing feature featuring noted online video execs, today we offer up Max Haot, CEO of Livestream.com. Before founding Livestream, Haot founded ICF, a media asset management platform, which, according to Crunchbase, was sold to Verizon Business in 2005. He’s also a big fan of Facebook, and he is Belgian!

1. What’s the one big issue/law/attitude/restriction that you think is holding back the industry?

The hypocrisy of video platforms when dealing with piracy. There’s a consistent claim made by all video platforms that there’s no solution to video piracy due to the high volume of content. It’s simply not true. But it’s convenient to keep the growth from pirated content, thanks to the protection provided by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The reality is that there are many simple solutions which [Livestream] implemented successfully — for example, limiting simultaneous viewership to 50 viewers, and manually verifying channels who want a higher limit, has thwarted piracy on Livestream. If we can do it, all our competitors can. And even YouTube can do it: Our users upload more video content every hour than Youtube users.

All the cards are not played yet. While YouTube’s copyright strategy looks like the winning way to grow early on, the outcome of the ongoing Viacom/Google lawsuit might change this… very soon.

2. What industry buzzword do you never want to hear again?

Long Tail. The long tail is the biggest theory against the real-time web and live video. Three years ago, we would hear all the time from potential customers or investors: “Why bother live streaming if most video views will be for the recording in the long tail?” We are proving that assumption wrong every day now.

3. If someone gave you 50 million to invest in a company in this space, which one would it be? (Mentioning your own doesn’t count.)

Facebook. However they face a very interesting challenge in the next 5-10 year timeline. Are they a proprietary social utility or a content company? Today, I go to Facebook because my friends are there — it is a social utility to me. But if the social graph becomes open and initiatives such as Open Social prevail and make your social graph truly portable — the social graph will no longer be the reason why I go to Facebook. They have nothing to worry about in the next few years — but if this becomes true in the next ten years then Facebook will just be another walled garden like AOL or Time Warner Cable. I will then need another reason to go there, such as exclusive games, video or livestreaming events.

4. What was the last video (that you weren’t personally involved with) that you liked enough to spread to others?

Pixel Stars Invade NY:

5. WILD-CARD: Last month’s open letter regarding Livestream’s zero tolerance policy towards piracy caused some controversy due to the way in which it accused competitors of not sharing that policy. What’s been the fallout from this?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive from major rights holders, who are supporting our approach and strategy and reached out after our announcement, and as a result we are in talks. As a direct result, we are negotiating content distribution deals and they shared with us that they are requiring our competition to follow our lead or they will end up removing their content from these platforms. We hope to also participate in the next congressional debate with regards to piracy and the new Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and hope to be invited to share our approach and results with the policy makers.

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