Veoh going but not forgotten

I’m sure there are plenty of quotations about how a person’s true self is exposed not by success but by struggle. Dmitry Shapiro, Veoh’s founder & CEO, posted today re: closing their business and heading towards bankruptcy, a difficult realization for any leader. Dmitry’s note represented him the way i’ve come to know him – as a passionate, truthful and introspective guy. We first met on a panel several years back and although our sites were to some extent competitive, there was never animosity. We were building the same vision to help media of all sizes come online. Veoh stood up for their rights in lawsuits and won a summary judgment against Universal Music Group.

Best of luck to Dmitry and the rest of the Veoh team.

We are the new MTV

We are the new MTV. By “we” i’m not referring to YouTube but rather each one of us creating our own music videos. I stumbled this morning into the world of TiK ToK lip dubs and it’s awesome (Tik ToK = incredibly popular song by Ke$ha).

Awesome for fans (viewers): As a video viewer i get to have a communal experience w/ other Ke$ha fans – their enthusiasm is contagious and gives me more emotional reference points for the song. And that’s what music is all about – how it makes you feel.

Awesome for fans (video creators): “Hi Ke$ha, i want to use your song in my video – how much will this cost?” That phone call could never take place but via YouTube ContentID we’ve essentially created a microlicensing platform. The video creator uses a song they like, then our ID technology identifies the song for the music label and allows them to take it down or monetize it via ads or “click to buy this song” links.

Awesome for artists: These girls are identifying and projecting themselves with Ke$ha – i gotta believe as an artist you’d be incredibly charged to connect w/ you audience in this intimate a way. Proof? Ke$ha has favorited dozens of these on her own channel.

Awesome for labels: They get fans creating and popularizing hundreds of free commercials for their artist, watched by millions of people. And accompanied by an ad or a solicitation to buy this song.


Iraqi Gov’t Launches a YouTube Channel!

When we visited Baghdad in April, Jared Cohen from the State Department emphasized the trip would only be successful if we were able to help with deliverables, not just talk. Well, Google has been hard at work and this week was able to announce two amazing initiatives.

1) Google will work to scan and digitize the artifacts of the Iraqi National Museum, an awesome collection of some of the Middle East’s oldest artifacts.

2) The Government of Iraq has set up a YouTube channel. When in Baghdad, government officials stressed to me how important communication and transparency would be in this new era to build trust among citizens and help the world understand Iraq’s evolution. We at YouTube are incredible proud to support this effort and make available the tools they need to broadcast themselves to the world.

Earn College Credit for Watching YouTube

Richard Buckland is a computer science lecturer at the University of NSW who has pioneered the use of YouTube videos as learning aids at Australian universities. Seeing a need for more challenging computing classes in high schools, Buckland is now offering a class for high school students based almost entirely on the recordings of his first-year computing lectures.

High school students who want to learn more about computing and mathematics can take this advanced, first-year university level class for free. While studying the video lectures at home, participants will only have to come to the university one night a week for a two and a half hour lab where they can ask questions and socialize. To get course credit, the students just have to complete the same assignments and tests as Buckland’s in-classroom students.”
– via PSFK

If YouTube weren’t owned by Google….

YouTube loves being part of the Google family, but every once in a while “don’t be evil” gets in the way of, you know, amusing ideas. The latest one to tickle me is an elaborate practical joke I imagine playing on a friend. Here’s how it goes:

First I get a video of a friend doing something goofy but recognizable – it has to be completely unique and out of the ordinary – like chicken dance followed by the running man. Then I pick a random country – say the Philippines – and show this video automatically on YouTube to anyone from that region. Do this for a few weeks and then invent some reason to get said friend over to the Philippines. Once he’s over there, every single Filipino will be pointing, laughing and likely imitating the dance. My friend doesn’t understand what’s going on and is perplexed why he’s being targeted for ridicule.
The alternate, even more evil version, is to take this same concept but instead of a goofy dance, create a fake clip where my friend is kicking a dog or running down the street flipping over baby carriages (prop dog/babies of course). Then send him to the country where you’ve been running the clip and watch a mob form to chase him down for this terrible acts.
Hilarity, right? 🙂

The Return of YouTube Release Notes

Released a bunch of cool new YouTube features including easy ability to share a video on Twitter and the return of the status bar during uploads. Accompanying this push was the return of release notes, or at least an expanded version of normal “here’s what’s new” that we post every so often.

Why am i blogging about our release notes? Well, because it’s part of something bigger that we’re attempting – to be more transparent. Since the acquisition, we’ve grown tremendously in size – both as a company and as a community. Although we’re obviously thrilled with the success, it has come with tradeoffs. Sometimes lose the connection to our community because we’ve got so much going on. We appear to be more “corporate” and blackbox.

How are we countering this? Well, we’ve gotten more interactive on our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Also we’re trying to increase the amount of information and data we share on the blog. We also intend to do more open betas where the community can participate in our development process at an early stage. I’m pushing for even more radical transparency — giving raw data about our upload latency, etc when available. There will always be information we can’t share – sometimes for competitive reasons, or when it would be considered financial guidance or even because it has legal or privacy implications. But generally we’re going to try and do a better job of putting roadmaps, ideas, successes and failures out there.

To people running their own companies, i’d put the same challenge forth – if there’s not a really good reason to keep it a secret, just share it.

Hey! Get Off My Name. Username disputes are the domain squatting of the future.

On the heels of WIPO‘s announcement that domain disputes increased to a record 2,329 cases in 2008 (8% increase from 2007) a much more interesting question is starting to be raised. What rights do brands have to their usernames on social services such as MySpace, Twitter, and YouTube. As most of the major companies have already secured their URLs, the most valuable real estate for them to cultivate these days is their persistent space within these social communities. And today it’s the wild west with each service arriving at its own set of principles mixing various legal arguments with their own business objectives and user protection.

Take Apple for example – one of the world’s most powerful and loved brands. Of course is their corporate website but what about their social presence? Let’s see what the username “Apple” yields on these four prominent social spaces:

MySpace (/apple) = DJ Apple. Brand Fail.
Twitter (/apple) = Squatter. Brand Fail.
YouTube (/apple) = Some user named Apple. Brand Fail.

Wow, so Apple fails to occupy the real estate associated with their brand on three of the most important social publishing and community tools of the Web2 era. You think they’d want to address this, yes? But how? There’s no clear WIPO-like rules in place for service usernames. And none of these users are violating Apple’s trademark or creating brand confusion so it’s unclear that Apple has any legal right to the usernames since “Apple” is a generic term. For clear trademarks or impersonations it’s easier to claim your brand.

Basically in this case brands are left with two choices:

1) Negotiate directly with the user and try to purchase the namespace a la buying a domain name.

2) Contact the service provider and try to get them to reclaim the name on behalf of the brand, sometimes using the carrot or stick of advertising spend. This often happens under the cover of darkness when the user account is inactive but what happens when the user has a vibrant community around them? Does the service provider really want to set off blogosphere shitstorm and be accused of selling out their users?

So what’s a potential best practice for this new reality?

A) Free market + easy account transfer. Service providers such as MySpace could support the ability to transfer an account and its history to a new user name along with a payment to the account holder negotiated between the brand and the user. Make the transfer option available with a minimum payment of $5k in order to minimize the number of account transfers. Once transferred on the legacy account, support a ” has relocated to ” for a 90 day period.

B) Separate official namespaces for brands – /brand/name as opposed to /user. Is this part of the Twitter revenue strategy?

Does anyone know of services or communities that are elegantly handling the username issue? (I’ll offer up that it’s a challenge for us here at YouTube).

Note: I haven’t included Facebook because as a Real Name system there really isn’t a /apple equivalent. The issue of whether user-created fan pages are being embraced by brands or shut down is a separate post. Coke at least did something very novel with their user-started fan page.

Two Tube Stories: Obama, YouTube is the new Google?

On the Tube:

1) You can now download Obama videos from YouTube
Larry Lessig notes that Obama’s ChangeDotGov videos are now offered for download on YouTube. We’re excited to have gotten this live before such a historic week in American politics. Since I didn’t make the Inauguration trip, consider this feature my patriotic contribution – thanks to Maryrose and VJ!

2) YouTube Search Ascendant
Miguel Helft at the NYTimes writes on the trend for video search as the new starting point for users when they want info. I’m mentioned in the article – Miguel’s thesis rings true to me – increasingly when someone wants to experience breaking news, research a new car or learn how to caulk a tub they start with YouTube.

In talking with Miguel I also mentioned how this trend and the visceral nature of video could translate to more emotional connections between users and the information they consume. Video is the most immersive media type and as the web becomes more and more about moving images, we’re going to feel differently about the content we encounter. Seeing the lush vacation destination unfold in 30 seconds of video instead of trying to imagine “a sandy beach” supported by a photoshopped static image.

Leo DiCaprio Loves The YouTube

Leonardo DiCaprio gives YouTube some dap in the Dec 08 issue of GQ, referencing his favorite YouTube video (“Good Day Mr. Kubrick“) and noting graciously “how great is YouTube? Endless entertainment. Endless! Every day. What the hell? You can type in anything, like ‘frogs getting laid’ and they have, like, seventy clips. It’s fabulous.”

Blush! Thanks Leo, although i admit we really don’t have great results for the query “frogs getting laid.”