5 Questions With…Boxee CEO Avner Ronen


Avner Ronen

vocal critic
other companies

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

The biggest issue still remains access to content. The Internet is still being discriminated against — would love to see some affirmative action. There is no reason the Internet can not be the fourth distribution network for content (adding to the existing cable, satellite and IPTV platforms).

Netflix (s NFLX) and Hulu have shown that the Internet can provide a great VOD experience and MLB and ESPN3 are showing that you can stream live HD events in great quality with a truly interactive experience. There is a generation growing up with the Internet as its main source of video. They want to watch the content they love on the platform of their choice, and they are willing to pay.

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

“Analog dollars to digital cents.” The Internet does not mean free. As a content owner you can control the number of ads you insert in a video and enjoy higher CPMs — plus these ads can’t be skipped — and you can set the price for subscription of pay-per-view. Analog dollars can actually turn into digital Euros.

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.)

I would write a check of $25M each to Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart and ask them to go 100 percent Internet. Charge $4 a month for access to both shows and otherwise only release short clips, 24 hours later, on YouTube. (s GOOG)

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

I watched it over and over again. I believe it sets several world records: Most times someone was able to say “very, very” in less than 90 seconds, longest interview given using the smallest vocabulary…

5. WILD-CARD: Boxee’s done a great job of building up a loyal user base, but is also looking to expand its audience, especially with the launch of the Boxee Box. What’s your strategy for bringing in new users without losing your early adopters?

For us, breaking through from being a geeks-only product to the broader early adopter audience will be a combination of getting more distribution on TVs and Blu-ray, as well as bringing more premium content and simplifying the user experience. We are working on all these fronts.

Some early users may feel we’re spending cycles on the wrong kind of stuff, but we’re going to try and maintain Boxee as a power-tool for the more advanced users. As an example, go into our settings section or bring up video settings on playback. You’ll see that there is a lot you can tweak and control, most of it will be incomprehensible for a “normal” person.

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