Internet, Startups, Video

Say Hello to VodPod

Dear loyal readers, all twelve of you (hi mom and dad!) — wanted to let you know the new online service I’ve been working on is open for business as of today.

So what is VodPod? It gives you both a place and tools to you build a video collection – with your own videos that you upload to us, or videos you add in from YouTube and dozens of similar sites — and then watch with your friends or other people who share your interests. Check it out.

Now please allow me to indulge in a bit of solipsism (I do try to avoid it, can’t help myself today). While VodPod is first and foremost the result of a great collaboration with my two partners (Scott and Spencer) since June 1 or so, it’s also the culmination in some ways of things I’ve thought about or worked on for quite a while.

Including the challenge of how people find the video programming they want on the Internet. I first worked on this problem almost 10 years ago when I led the effort to build the RealGuide, the first (or one of the first two or three) comprehensive streaming media guides on the Internet. It was a sort of Yahoo directory for streaming media, with links to the most interesting audio and video clips on the Internet. The big mistake we made was that the guide was the product solely of our editors. It was good, but necessarily limited in scope — the people who used it couldn’t contribute to it.

VodPod is the opposite. We have no team of editors, there are just the three of us here. You are the editors, you do the aggregating. You build your own Pod; you decide what you want friends or others to watch. I guess that makes VodPod a people-powered video aggregator, and I quite like that.

Building VodPod has also reflected an increasing fascination and love I’ve had with people-powered services. Starting with eBay and Live365 back in “Web 1.0” era, continuing through to services now like YouTube, Last.fm (my personal favorite of the bunch), flickr, WordPress, SecondLife and others. All those — and others — have been big influences, and we’ve tried to tip our hat to a few on our company blog. They all do one thing really well — they know and remember that you’re in charge. I hope we do that as well.

Last, building VodPod has been the product of great collaboration, with some very smart, fun, and creative thinkers. A three-day brainstorming session last December with Matt Webb and Jack Schulze provided inspiration for several ideas that can be found in the final VodPod service. We’ve been fortunate to work with Cecil Juanarena (one of the best designers in the business — you could do worse than to look at his CD-ROM designs from the mid-90s, they provide a masterclass on interaction design for broadband) and Steve Mack at LuxMedia (who has literally written the book on streaming video, and more importantly has great instincts and judgment) on the design and user experience of VodPod. To the extent you like how it works and looks, credit them.

Most of all, a tip of the hat to my two VodPod colleagues and partners, Scott and Spencer. It’s been a great, fun ride so far, let’s keep it going.

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