I was Digital Hollywood today rubbing elbows with content creators and distributors in San Jose. On the agenda were several entrepreneurial forums where local startups pitched their companies to an audience of competitors, peers and venture capitalists. Given the words “Digital” and “Hollywood” can cover a lot of ground all of the companies generally fit the themes of the conference. I saw some interesting companies, some of whom haven’t been profiled yet on this site.
Here’s a rundown:
TurnHere was founded by Brad Inman who founded HomeGain. Staying within the community arena but moving to the world of travel, TurnHere creates and distributes travel and “local experience” films. They employ 2000 independent filmmakers around the world, with 250 trained in the 90 second “Turn Here” style, which includes a local as narrator to capture the right flavor of a place. The firm experimented with different lengths, but is gravitating towards 90 second to 2 minute features in our short attention span world. The business model is centered on local advertising and advert films in the profiled regions. I watched several films in both genres and they were great. I am really impressed by the site and the films. The food makes you salivate, the sites make you want to hop in your car.
Started by Jeff Allen, Managing Partner of Rocket Systems, who is taking a break to be CEO, RallyPoint aims to bring the Internet (and interactivity) to your TV. Inspired by a desire to talk smack to friends while watching sporting events, it will offer an array of products like chat, voting, game show participation, pop up alerts, auction watch through applets overlaid on broadcasts. They will create their own device and hope to be integrated with other devices as well. Another device in the living room scares me, but the company is in its very early stages, so they’ll presumably be testing the concept. They plan to offer their service through subscription, targeting the market of people getting score updates on their SMS phones. Sounds like Wink and some other startups from another era, maybe the time is now.
Funded by Naspers, a large South African media company, but based in the Silicon Valley, Mediazone is a secure P2P video delivery platform that supports media portals and live premier events. They recently did live coverage of 300 matches on 9 courts for Wimbledon. There’s a rugby channel and, in the past, they’ve covered things like the Maverick Surf Contest. I’m trying hard not to utter the words long tail, but I really have no choice. That’s what a service like theirs enables. Streaming through their P2P network allows them to deliver multiple channels without the bandwidth costs of other streamers, which makes it sound like they are playing in the RedSwoosh neighborhood. They are working on an interactive television platform, perhaps similar to Rallypoint, which they only mentioned in passing.
Magnify is led by Steve Rosenbaum, who created MTV’s “Unfiltered”, so he’s a serious veteran of the user generated movement. Magnify is a scalable human powered review system for user generated video. With 70K Youtube uploads per day, they want to help narrow the relevancy of search. Volunteers become reviewers and they start to organize and tag the better material to form communities to share like content. Lo and behold, as we watched a venture video channel, they showed a video of our friend Mike Arrington. Certainly, it did seem to provide relevant content. Whether or not, human editors will ultimately be necessary to create these communities, I don’t know, but they are certainly trying to fill a glaring need in the online content space.
The three minutes allotted to Danny Yeager from NBOR (No Boundaries Or Rules) was not sufficient. I’m not really sure what they do. What I did glean is that it will either be the most significant product of my life, will disappear from the face of the earth or fall somewhere in between. They make both software and hardware and have about 70 patents. The software is called Blackspace and is intended to replace the UI of Windows and works across multiple devices and gives a totally open, cross boundary UI that has, well… No Boundaries Or Rules. They’ve also created some tactile devices that turn flat panel devices into blank screens that can be reused for different applications (though I’m not clear how). You’re probably realizing you have no idea what they do. Well, join the club. I can not provide a serviceable summary or review of something that claims to be this big and gets three minutes of my time. This will be a TechCrunch follow up, because there could be a really interesting story here.
Other companies featured (that I missed) who might be worth a follow up: Clip Syndicate, who syndicates video clips to verticals across the Internet; FrameFree, who provides technologies to create motion graphics for the web and mobile devices; Postroller, a video ad network; Mspot, an aggregator and distributes premium video content for the web; Wideorbit, an advertising infrastructure software for content distribution networks; and Teamdating, a dating site geared towards group social interactions, that wasn’t featured in our previous post on online dating sites.