Sometimes, it takes startups a few times to get it right. Case in point: Social video aggregator Shufflr.tv just rolled out a significant update that turns its platform into an interesting play on Twitter-powered video discovery. Shufflr.tv offers its users the ability to bookmark and queue videos from all over the web, and it organizes videos in personalized channels, presenting, for example, all the clips the people you follow on Twitter have shared.
Of course, this kind of social video discovery isn’t entirely new. Boxee has been aggregating videos of your Twitter and Facebook friends for quite some time, and Showyou recently came out with an iOS app with similar functionality. However, Shufflr takes the social graph integration one step further by enlisting celebrities and regular Twitter users alike to curate videos.
The platform has been creating countless “ghost” profiles for Twitter users like Ellen DeGeneres, Paris Hilton and Ashton Kutcher, ingesting all the videos these users have shared on the microblogging platform. Users can decide to follow any of these Twitter accounts on Shufflr, or simply subscribe to pre-populated channels that aggregate tweeted videos from fashion celebrities, movie stars or tech bloggers.
Now why would someone do this? Well, here’s a reason I like it: Quite frankly, I don’t care enough about some Hollywood celebrities to follow them on Twitter, but I don’t want to miss out on any videos they like. Shufflr also aggregates conversations on Twitter about certain videos, so you can see what someone has said about a clip, and reply right from the site. Think of it as Brizzly, but for video, and without all the other noise.
Shufflr.tv is run by the Bangalore, India-based video start-up Althea Systems, and Althea CEO Vinod Gopinath showed me a first version of Shufflr.tv at NewTeeVee Live 2010. Back then, it was one of many aggregation platforms, and you had to download its Adobe Air client to make it work. Gopinath admitted there were “a lot of drop-offs,” both when Shufflr asked people to download and when it made them sign up for an account. Shufflr’s team learned its lesson, and it not only developed a web app, but also made it useful for discovery even for people who don’t sign up.
Shufflr still has its desktop app, and the company just released an Android client and is waiting for Apple to approve its iPhone app. These native clients offer all the features of the web app, but the web app doesn’t deliver everything the web client does — and this disparity is one of Shufflr’s problems. The platform could also be better about explaining itself, and in general, offers too many features with too few distinctions.
However, these are issues that can be solved, especially if you have $3 million from Intel Ventures in the bank . Gopinath told me his team of 14 wants to grow, and eventually have a more permanent presence in the Valley. The company is also looking at partnerships with cell phone carriers as possible sources of revenue, but Gopinath was very frank that Shufflr’s revenue model is still evolving.
Shufflr’s newest incarnation may not be perfect, but Althea Systems is clearly onto something with the platform, especially with its take on Twitter. Most of the media shared on the microblogging platform gets tweeted by people outside of your social graph. And that’s okay — as long as you have good discovery tools.