With a webcam built into or sold together with nearly every computer that goes over the counter nowadays you’d expect direct video-based communication to have massively taken off by now, but the reality is that it’s far from being as ubiquitous as some proclaimed it would become in the past.
But maybe it’s just that there’s isn’t always that good a reason to video chat with your friends and family when you can just as easily use voice call or text chat to communicate with them directly. After all, once you’re connected you can just as easily get your message across without actually seeing someone.
But Israel-based 6rounds thinks that there is a demand for a video platform that offers additional layers of fun, social interaction and utility on top of the basics of video conversations, and they’ve raised the necessary funds to bring the idea to market.
CEO Dany Fishel and COO Ilan Leibovich tell me that they view 6rounds essentially as a live meeting point that comes with real-time video chat but also a set of additional features that should enhance the “sharing experience”. Sharing can mean anything from co-browsing YouTube to playing games, adding funny effects to a live video conference, interacting on Facebook together with your contacts or even shopping for things online together with your friends or family members. You really need to try it to experience how much fun that can be, and for that reason we’ve arranged invitation codes for 500 TechCrunch readers. Simply head over to this webpage and enter code “6techcrunch”.
If you’re too late, check out these screenshots and a short demo video below to get an idea of what 6rounds is all about.
6rounds is not just a mere destination site, and wants to enable users to interact socially in real-time regardless of what their favorite social network is. The platform comes with an open API and can easily be integrated into third-party websites or services – starting with a Facebook or MySpace app, continuing with a plugin for WordPress or an embeddable widget in users personal pages, and ending with various extensions to IM, ICQ, Skype and Firefox.
It also does a fine job at tapping into your social networking accounts to build a profile for yourself that indicates your interests, hobbies, music and movie taste etc. When you’re in a video chat you can click a button and a question will be proposed based on the profile of the person on the other end. This could be useful as an ice-breaker when you’re having a conversation with someone you don’t know very well yet.
Sounds all fine and dandy, but how will they make money? The founders explained to me that they see four different revenue streams for 6rounds:
1) users could purchase virtual and real gifts (think ringtones, MP3s, etc.) and send them to other users during the video experience.
2) users could personalize their video experience by purchasing customized skins and choosing different applications for private arenas (unique games, targeted extensions and special activities).
3) affiliate fees from e-commerce majors: from music, movies, TV shows and books through the personal profile slideshows to a dedicated co-shopping experience in a variety of online retail stores. 6rounds aims to earn revenue shares from these transactions and allow other developers to tap into this stream by means of the open API.
4) advertising, licensing and product placement: the company at a later stage intends to offer advertisers licensed versions of 6rounds as well the ability to insert video advertising units within the layers (think sponsored gifts, targeted activities, and promoted themes).
The company just closed a seed investment of $1 million, led by Rhodium Investment Group and followed by private angel investors from the Israeli Startup Factory group, who previously invested $350K (November 2008). The founders had initially founded the startup with the help of family and friends on some $150K back in February 2008.