Monday, September 01, 2008

Justin.TV

AreaCable and AreaRadio going LIVE?

Justin.tv is all about the live in “live broadcasting”. Everyone knows that video is now, finally, a big deal on the Internet. But the video that is a big deal is recorded video: clips on YouTube (or a bunch of other sites that aggregate or distribute video) and movies and TV shows on iTunes or Amazon.com or wherever. Justin.tv specializes in live video. What impressed us and lead us to invest in the company is that the co-founders didn’t just turn on a web site that let people broadcast live to whoever is watching; they designed a system that allowed anyone to broadcast live 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere that has a reasonable cell phone signal: the most extreme version of live broadcasting.

This accomplishment was first shown in alpha versions earlier this year by the eponymous Justin Kan attaching a web camera to his hat and committing to broadcasting his life, or “lifecasting”. Out of that experience, Justin and his co-founders, CEO Michael Seibel, CTO Emmet Shear and VP Engineering Kyle Vogt, figured out how to build an end to end system that made broadcasting a video signal with even a marginal cellular signal tolerable and, most particularly, made it possible to broadcast high-resolution video both functionally and at extremely low cost. On top of that, the team has built a system for letting viewers and broadcasters cooperate in real time to make sure that the most interesting stuff being broadcast gets promoted to the “front page.”

Call us crazy but we think that a business that can reliably and systematically show people the most interesting things going on in real life in real time anywhere in the world might well be a really popular destination on the Internet. I like to think of it like this: If you can get a million people out of the six billion in the world to create a live broadcast at any one time, there’s bound to be something interesting enough to get a significant percentage of the people sitting in front of their computers to check in and see what’s happening.

Indeed, we believe that Justin.tv could well represent the first instance of a new form of media. With each new turn in technology comes a new form of media. Usually the first thing people do with a new technology is to adapt the old thing. When movies where invented, everyone stuck a camera on a tripod and filmed plays. The first radio broadcasts were simply the audio for staged plays being sent over the airwaves. We think YouTube represents early broadband video, essentially redistributing home movies and other recorded videos. Justin.tv is the first instance of a new media.

As always, there is plenty of competition for Justin.tv including Ustream, Stickam and others. In our case, we have bet on an extremely talented team of youngsters who have shown clear vision and motivation to build a business. Alsop Louie Partners lead the Series A financing of Justin.tv, which closed in August, after the company was seed-funded by Y Combinator and other angel investors and bootstrapped by the founders in an apartment in San Francisco. Check out the team on their own office camera.

(Screenshot above from http://www.justin.tv/ijustine)

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