The Venice Project – early thoughts

SkypeFounders 

I got an email this weekend (along with many of you, I’m sure) announcing that the Venice Project has entered its public beta phase.  For those of you that don’t know the Venice Project is the latest venture from the founders of Skype and has been a stealth mode TV over the internet project for some months now.  They are rumoured to have employed hundreds of people, principally in New York, but also in many other geographies.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I have more than a passing interest in this space, so I’m curious to understand the significance of this venture.

The whole project is shrouded in secrecy with participants in the private beta signing non-disclosure agreements, so there isn’t much info out there.  I think there is enough info to scrape together some early thoughts and observations though.

  • They are following ICQ and GMail in what is becoming a standard approach to viral marketing – make it a little mysterious, limit participation in the beta to invitation only, have existing beta participants invite their friends and create an impression that there is exclusivity in being part of the beta programme
  • The service combines P2P delivery with legitimate content deals – so there won’t be any Napster style difficulties with copyright (rumour has it that the public beta launch is behind schedule because the content deals have taken a long time to pull together).  The service includes social features, like chat and ratings
  • They are going into public beta early with a service that still has glitches – I aplaud this move, it shows courage and confidence in the revolutionary nature of what is on offer
  • Coverage on the web is mixed so far (although very early days).  This report on Webtvwire says the GUI is poor which could be a killer and video is stuttery, informitv is more positive, (although they admit to having signed an NDA)

 

Zennstrom and Friis have fantastic pedigree across two really successful companies and I’m sure what I’m about to say won’t be news to them.  To me P2P delivery is interesting, but the really exciting play is in the service level, and a few things seem to be missing.  At this stage I should say that I haven’t participated in the beta – so anyone who has direct experience of the service (and can share) please chip in.  And if anyone wants to invite me…..

Firstly – I don’t think a service based on content deals is the right way to go, long term.  This is a walled garden approach.  Music has shown us that content should be separated from distribution.  Right now an integrated service might be the best way to get something started though.

Secondly – search on the service is limited to stuff you have watched – that seems almost crippling to me.

Thirdly – the social elements of the service are great, but they are missing the aggregator/fileter piece that is critical for the long tail.  This is one of the things that makes internet TV interesting to me.   

As an example, a friend of mine has invested in an internet TV channel dedicated to cycling Cycling TV – aggregating niche audiences worldwide to find critical mass in a way that is impossible over traditional TV distribution infrastructure – you couldn’t find this on the Venice Project with its walled garden approach and limited search – yet this sort of thing is a large part of the promise of internet TV.

This is a screenshot from the service:

VeniceProjectScreenShot

  • so … do you have a beta access token you can share ???

  • so … do you have a beta access token you can share ???

  • I wonder if this the same of very different than TIOTI. It sounds the same but I’ve heard that it is different enough that Paul wasn’t too worried about it when we last talked.

    It strikes me that Venice is about the delivery of content where as TIOTI is about finding, discovering and networking around content. What do you think?

  • I wonder if this the same of very different than TIOTI. It sounds the same but I’ve heard that it is different enough that Paul wasn’t too worried about it when we last talked.

    It strikes me that Venice is about the delivery of content where as TIOTI is about finding, discovering and networking around content. What do you think?

  • nic

    Fred – I got a beta invite this morning (only applied online yesterday…) if I have the ability to invite others you will be the first to know.

    Simon – I agree with you. TIOTI is the filter/aggregator piece I talked about, and the Venice Project doesn’t seem to do that. It must be in their plans though.

  • nic

    Fred – I got a beta invite this morning (only applied online yesterday…) if I have the ability to invite others you will be the first to know.

    Simon – I agree with you. TIOTI is the filter/aggregator piece I talked about, and the Venice Project doesn’t seem to do that. It must be in their plans though.

  • Hi

    If you look at the service agreement you can work out fairly closely what is intended…design detail and execution though will be key, but with all those (allegedly) people they will have the legs – and burn – to match 🙂

  • Hi

    If you look at the service agreement you can work out fairly closely what is intended…design detail and execution though will be key, but with all those (allegedly) people they will have the legs – and burn – to match 🙂

  • Galit Ashkenazi

    This sounds really interesting.

    If you could spare an invitation, please email one to me…

  • Galit Ashkenazi

    This sounds really interesting.

    If you could spare an invitation, please email one to me…

  • Fred, I have a token for sale on eBay 🙂

    70% of the sale price is going to Amnesty International.

  • Fred, I have a token for sale on eBay 🙂

    70% of the sale price is going to Amnesty International.

  • Eliezer

    Hello. I’m experienced user & could be a good beta tester. Please send
    me invitation token, if it possible. Thanks in advance!
    [email protected]

  • Eliezer

    Hello. I’m experienced user & could be a good beta tester. Please send
    me invitation token, if it possible. Thanks in advance!
    [email protected]

  • George

    Please!!!! please please!!!! Send me an invite.

    I am cutting my cable service and i neeed this…If anyone can spare an invite I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks in advance

    invitemetoo at gmail dot com

  • George

    Please!!!! please please!!!! Send me an invite.

    I am cutting my cable service and i neeed this…If anyone can spare an invite I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks in advance

    invitemetoo at gmail dot com