Following the backlash against YouTube’s merging with Google+ for identity, authentication and, most recently, commenting, there’s been a renewed interest in a sort of anonymous video hosting service – something like an “Imgur for video,” for instance. It’s an idea that’s been tried before, but sometimes having good timing helps. That may be the case with Vidme, a new video sharing service making the rounds on Reddit, which has seen 140,000 uniques in the one month it’s been live.
The service is one of three projects created by Bit Kitchen, a product lab founded by Alex Benzer, previously founder and CEO at L.A.-based SocialEngine, and Warren Shaeffer, previously COO at SocialEngine, alongside two of SocialEngine’s top engineers.
SocialEngine, a TechStars Boulder 2011 grad that helps businesses build their own social networks, was acquired in December by social media agency Room 214, Benzer tells us. (The acquisition hadn’t been publicly announced until now, as it turns out.) The six-year old, largely bootstrapped company had been profitable for some time, Benzer notes, but they decided to sell because Room 214 had a lot of enterprise customers who could take advantage of the service. Plus, it would allow him and Shaeffer to work on other things. Terms of the deal, mostly cash, are not being disclosed, but the exit gave Benzer and Shaeffer “a nice runway” to work on their new ideas at Bit Kitchen.
At Bit Kitchen, the team has also launched an anonymous group chatting experiment called Masked, and a “digital gratitude journal” called Thankaday, but Vidme is currently their main focus.
“We’ve been in building mode for the last month or two, and kind of putting these [three services] out there and seeing what the organic response is, says Benzer. “With Vidme, we’ve been exposing it to Reddit, because I think that it’s really useful for Reddit users, especially as early adopters.” He says that some Reddit users have already messaged him asking if they can help work on Vidme, too.
Vidme, of course, is inspired by Imgur, a service that developed a brand around being a place to anonymously share photos. But Imgur has yet to take the leap into video, despite the demand. “Imgur’s DNA is photos – it’s in their name. They’ve had four years to think about videos, and they haven’t done it,” says Benzer.
With the new service, now available on the web, iOS and Android, you can drag-and-drop videos to upload them, or, on mobile, upload videos from your smartphone or tablet in just a few taps. The idea is to allow you to share your videos quickly, without having to create an account. So far, it’s been used for lightweight sharing of video, like one of a kid taking their first steps, as well as for things where anonymity is the main draw, like the tutorial on how to exploit a server.
After the video is uploaded, you can share it to social networks, post to Reddit, or just grab a link which you can share elsewhere as you choose.
Key to Vidme’s value proposition is that you’ll never be forced to register, though on mobile the company will be able to associate a device with the videos you upload, so you could later quickly pull your videos down, if you chose to do so. They may also later introduce an optional user account feature for those who do want a way to better manage their uploads across devices, but this would not have to be associated with your “real name,” as with Google+/YouTube.
Currently, there aren’t a whole lot of restrictions on video content or length, besides a promise that they’ll “obey the law,” and use their best judgement. (So, yes, there’s going to be some NSFW stuff on there, be warned.)
Like Imgur, Vidme’s potential business model could also one day involve monetization through pro accounts, advertising, or enterprise deals, but for now, the service is free while Bit Kitchen tests the waters.
Benzer says there’s already some investor interest in L.A. for Vidme, and while they have a “significant” runway thanks to SocialEngine’s sale, they’re considering raising in order to speed things up. “We’ve received some offers already, and we’re considering them more so for the network value, and less for the financial value,” he says. “We’re definitely talking about it right now.”
You can try out Vidme yourself, from here.
UPDATE, 1/9/15: At Vidme’s request, we’ve updated the article to reflect the company’s new legal name “Vidme” now, not “Viddme.” The screenshots will still show the older name.