Video startups aren't an easy sell

Bambi Francisco Roizen · January 25, 2010 · Short URL:

Super angel Jeff Clavier shares his investment philosophy around video ventures, specifically Vidly

Jeff Clavier, prolific angel investor in Silicon Valley, joins us as guest host in this episode of Vator Box. If you have a video service/product and want to show Jeff, better watch this segment to get a better idea of what he's looking for, and what he's not.

This week, we take a look at Vidly, a young startup that wants to be the "easiest and best way to share videos on Twitter." The company was founded by Chrys Bader, and received an initial funding round of $500,000 from Ron Conway.

Here's some highlights of our observations:

The pitch: There's something to be said for pithiness. But there comes a point when 30 seconds just isn't enough to convey the story. Bader basically gave a Twitter pitch, leaving us with not much to analyze. It would have been good to set up the problem and why a service like his is needed, and how many initial users the company has. Fortunately, Jeff met with Chrys in the past and was familiar with the service. 

Novelty: There isn't a shortage of video platforms that let you upload video to the Web. But Vidly's technology is pretty good (according to our video reporter Chris Caceres in his Startup Sessions profile on Vidly), and having that "simplicity" factor is something that works in Vidly's favor. But we weren't convinced that it would be much of a differentiating factor.

Challenges/competition: It seems, one can just as easily upload a video to YouTube, and hit share on Twitter. Additionally, the real question is whether there's enough demand for quick video updates. Seesmic is a great example of a company that moved away from its video roots into something more useful to the end user. Seesmic, which Jeff invested in, started as a platform to essentially host video conversations, much like Twitter hosts text conversations. (See Seesmic's Loic LeMeur's video pitch back in January 2008, where he talks about Seesmic being a video Twitter.)

Additionally, monetization of video is not an easy feat, particularly user-generated video. YouTube cannot even monetize video. 

Watch more to get our feedback and advice to Vidly.

Note: Jeff passed on Vidly as an investment. For the reasons above, he wasn't convinced that it was an interesting enough "separate service" vs the other video platforms available. 

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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Joined Vator on

People share their opinion on any topic in video. There is a social software layer, much like Twitter, to follow the conversation. Loic calls it the "CNN of my friends."

There are 2,000 videos posted per day with only 1,500 people subscribed to the stealth site. 



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Vidly allows users to share videos on Twitter through their computer, webcam, mobile phone or iPhone.

Jeff Clavier

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Ezra Roizen

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Advisor-to and commenter-on emerging ventures