VodPod comes out of “private alpha” into beta mode today. It’s a social networking video sharing site and right about now you’re thinking, ‘Why do we need another YouTube?” Well, if YouTube becomes increasingly commercial, as it appears it will be, then user-generated video will need a new home.
VodPod is heavily designed around social networking. Have a thing for birds? Join the bird “pod” and you’ll have an instantaneous collection of birding videos. Like unicycling? Some kids from Australia have started a pod around that pastime too. Users can join multiple groups that cluster videos around various subjects that allows them to post and collect new videos that pertain to that topic. Although you don’t have to join a pod or even sign up with VodPod to search pod videos. Users can “lurk” within the pods anonymously without being socially networked.
Videos added to a pod don’t have to be original VodPod material. They can come from other sharing sites like YouTube using the embed code.
“Basically it allows you to build a video collection from videos you find on MySpace or YouTube or over 100 of these sites on the Internet, or you can put video of your own up on VodPod as the host, and then build a mixture of them.” said Mark Hall, one of the three founders of VodPod, in a phone briefing last Friday.
Hall and his partners are big fans of Last.fm and wanted to create a similar experience where users can build networks of friends with similar tastes and watch what they watch. Although, users can’t necessarily watch everything their friends watch because it is possible to mark certain videos as private, making it impossible for others to know that you have watched them.
VodPod development began over the summer in San Francisco where the company has been privately funded. Philip Rosedale, founder and CEO of Linden Labs and Second Life, and Toni Schneider, CEO of Automattic, which owns WordPress, are both outside advisers to the company.