New York-based social video startup Shelby.tv launched a new iPhone app Thursday that aims to present socially curated videos shared by people on Facebook and Twitter as well as on Shelby’s own social graph in a single stream. The app uses a lot of still images, presenting videos in a highly visual way — check out the screenshots below — but just as interesting as the product itself is the story behind it.
The Shelby team originally launched a combination of iOS and web apps in late 2011, competing with many other apps in the social curation space. Then, in the summer of 2012, Shelby shut down its service, while at the same time raising a $2.2 million series B. To say that people were a bit confused by the turn of events is an understatement.
Shelby CEO Reece Pacheco recently wrote a Medium post about all of this, which sheds some light on what was going on behind the scenes:
“Well, the biggest reason for the shut down was our underlying technical infrastructure. The way we built (the first app) did not set us up for long term success. I’m not talking about scaling issues (a la Twitter). I mean that we learned a lot from our initial launch, and realized there was a much better way we could collect and structure data such that we would have a great understanding of what people watch, what they might want to watch, and how to make recommendations for these things in the future.”
Shelby went on to launch another app that was meant to help with video discovery on iOS while YouTube was unavailable, but didn’t really succeed with it either:
“I’ll spare you the details, but we were unable to get Shelby Genius out ahead of the YouTube app and ultimately it was a cool hack that didn’t get the resources needed to make it a success.”
Instead, the team refocused on rebuilding its primary app, and using what it learned from earlier attempts. “Ultimately we were able to use our infrastructure much better after the shut down and have distilled all that down into this app,” Pacheco told me Thursday morning. His team now wants to refine the experience on iPhones, launch an iPad app and give users more options to curate content.
Here are some screenshots of the new app: