Thursday, February 22, 2007

NY Video 2.0 Rock and Roll


New York's video/media technology scene is chaotic. There must be nationally at least 15 different (probably many more) companies that all want to integrate web video into some sort of a business model. Now we all know that Youtube, Google Video, Yahoo, Myspace Video and Brightcove are the forerunners in this relatively new arena. What we have not determined yet (we the consumers) is who are top 3 companies will be in the long term.

Last night's meetup for New York City Video 2.0 was a wonderful showcase of things to come in the emerging internet video sphere.

DEMO 2007 in Palm Springs gave me a little insight as to who the new players were in this arena and last night one of DEMO's presenters was on hand to preview their product and answer some questions.

Clip Syndicate, a wholly owned subsidy of Critical Mention (previously funded by Silicon Alley Venture Partners, Stonehedge Capital and CIBC Capital Partners = $6.2M) looks to integrate and re-sell daily news through aggregating content centered around specific topics. So if you are interested in firefighting or gangs or sharks you can simply create a website that aggregates all shark clips that come across the affiliates and turn this into a place for up-to-the-minute shark coverage across the United States. Fees are paid to the affiliate for their content (30%), webmaster/publisher (20%) and Clip Syndicate retains (50%) of ad revenue. We'll see how this works in the long run, but interesting concept.

vidavee, a company centered around advertising withinweb content has 9 patents securing their success. Through manipulation of user content, vidavee is able to digitally insert advertisements directly into the content and republish the content once branded. Now I don't really know the mechanics behind how this works, but from their demo it was apparent that users could choose a number of options in how they would like to add marketing/branding/advertisements into their videos. Its only a short matter of time before they are funded in my opinion.

A number of other presenters showcased their companies as well: Hungryflix, a mobile video content provider wants to sell independent movies; enScramble, digitally filters and protects flash video against piracy and last but certainly not least was helloworld.

Let me take a minute to think about this concept. Its a pyramid scheme. Did I just say that? Yes, I did and so did its creator, Marvin Bzura. Helloworld is an amalgamation of Myspace, IM, Email, Video web conferencing and advertisements. Its a subscription service that costs anywhere from $10, 20, 30 or $40/ per month for consumers and anywhere from $75 to $200/month for advertisers (plus initiation fees) to use this service. Instead of using Myspace/Facebook for social networking, AOL for IM, Google for Email and webex for video conferencing, Marvin is hoping that customers will use his service instead of a multiple of other products. He also is attempting to sell his video conferencing software as real-time "programming". Apparently you can create channels through this webex that people can "tune into". Problem is that no one is watching and there are not enough contributors ( I kind of like this concept actually).

He said there was "no competition" he also said that because of the tiers in advertising, one seller can earn money from the next. But what baffled me most was that he claimed $70 Million dollars had been invested into this start-up. Furthermore, only 30,000 subscribers are currently using his service, but he has had his concept around for a number of years - so where's the growth going to come from?

I love my gmail, I like myspace (don't love it), I hate IM (don't even have it installed) and I don't webex people.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

PlumTV


Last night I had the pleasure of listening and meeting Tom Scott, CEO of PlumTV and running into old buddy, Juan Piecsanski, producer of PlumTV's program "Juan's Basement".

As a member of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce I have been fortunate enough to attend many interesting events. Last year it was a Royal Gala with the King of Sweden and last night was no exception.

Tom, Founder of Nantucket Nectar's, presents the case that PlumTV is every advertiser's dream and every viewer's favorite entertainment source. Despite TiVo, DVR's and an overall lackluster past couple of years for advertisements on television, PlumTV in its short existence has been able to turn the tables (and has startling statistics to prove it).

Its not all about the rich, the famous and the powerful. True these people do exist within the demographic's of the choice markets that PlumTV caters to (Telluride, the Hamptons, Aspen, Miami, etc) but the real value for consumers is the down-to-earth take that Plum has mastered on local issues. Where's the best place to buy watermelons? Who is that guy at the local coffee shop in downtown Aspen? What's the deal with the fisherman I see at Starbuck's out in the Hampton's?

These seemingly trivial pieces of information are what make Plum great. Its about understanding the places that you live in, not about big stars, hit tv shows and big advertisers.

Plum doesn't even allow advertisers to advertiser their own content. Instead, Plum works with American Express and others to create localized content specific to each niche market.

Some $20M in venture capital has been pumped into this start-up (2004) by notables including Jimmy Buffett and Robert Kraft (owner of New England Patriots). The hope will be to expand into and acquire more market share around the United States, to mix the local with the national.

Juan's show is all about hosting local, upcoming bands in his basement and shooting it for the Plum network. Pretty cool stuff for a 24 year old.

Nine months ago I heard through a friend that he was producing a show about local music in his basement. Apparently it was for local access. Little did I suspect that I would be seeing him at the PlumTV event. A pleasant suprise indeed.

Next stop should include Napa or Sonoma and for that I can't wait.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Long Weekend of Drinking, Lacrosse, Panty Party and Odessa Cafe



It has been yet another epic weekend, perhaps thats because its President's Day/Weekend. Oh I feel so darn patriotic, red, white and blue, go Bush!

On another note, We must be grateful for yet another Chinese New Year (George Washington would be proud). Year of the pig.

Right, so nothing comes to mind when I am thinking of this past weekend. I attended the NY Titan's Lacrosse game at Madison Square Garden. They fought (literally) against the Minnesota Swarm. There was a moment when some fisticuffs took place and the Titans lost (weep). But the beer was cold (sigh). I"ll stop with the emotions.

Later that night I hit up the Rated X Party at Luke and Leroy's. From what I recall, and this is when things get a little hazy, it was an excellent event. The hot body contest went without a hitch and think there were about 10 naked people that entered. A woman won the crowd over with her assets and was duly awarded $100 cash (not sure if the IRS follows this sort of thing, but maybe they should).

Sunday nights at the Odessa Cafe is where its at. I highly recommend the drink specials (lemondrops) and even more so the bartender, "Mr. Ziggy" he's an upstanding Kiwi and is more than willing to play music off your ipod on the cafe's state of the art soundsystem. You too can be a dj for an evening.