Loic le Meur, Seesmic: Micro-Vlogging, Beyond The Concept

Seesmic

It is undeniable: the booming trends on the Web are micro-blogging and video. Therefore, how can you doubt that a micro-vlogging formula will tear the roof off? Seesmic, the company started by French entrepreneur Loic Le Meur, aims to fill this spot in the online video space.

Seesmic

The idea for Seesmic is fairly simple: It replicates the experience of comment threads common to all blogs: People can post video comments and reply directly to each other. Uploading a video to the Web is a lengthy process, but with Seesmic, it is a click away, which makes video commenting a breeze.

The concept is very novel and still looking to gain significant traction. Everything is done to make this happen though: Beyond a video social network, Seesmic is a video comment technology provider. It offers a freely accessible read/write API (from what I understood), which is already being used by more than a dozen technology partners. If you always wanted your visitors to communicate through video on your site, well now you can enable this. According to Loic Le Meur, the API is a no-brainer.

thwirlThe Seesmic team went a step further in the social media game. In April of last year (2008), the company acquired the Twitter desktop client Thwirl, by far the most popular Twitter app on the market at the time. The team worked hard on the development of this Adobe Air app, and turned it into a real social media companion by enabling posting to Seesmic, Friendfeed (I don’t remember if you could already do this before the acquisition), laconi.ca, identi.ca, and more recently, through a partnership with ping.fm, they added at least twenty other social networks to the list (the dev team is also playing around with the newly released Facebook status API for 2-way communications with the Facebook platform).

I told Loic I would be a more avid user of Seesmic if I could record comments from my phone. He told me that

  1. iPhone/G1 don’t record video yet (good point!), and
  2. they are working on a Thwirl iPhone app.

All of a sudden, it made more sense why Seesmic acquired Thwirl, because at first it wasn’t clear to me why a video company would bother to spend time and money on a Twitter client.

The limit of the Seesmic concept is people’s natural shyness. For example, Seesmic’s most noticeable publishing partner is Techcrunch: I find it very intimidating to drop a video comment on a site that attracts several millions known-to-be-bitchy visitors a month, and I am not the only one. The Seesmic team is well-aware of people’s shyness, and Loic told me they are working on developing more private video environments. I guess that it would be easier for me to leave a video comment to my Facebook friends for example.

Seesmic already secured two rounds of funding ($12 million), which gives the company leeway to explore a few ideas before finding the winning combination.

Preview Of Seesmic/Thwirl For Facebook

The Seesmic team just launched an Air app for Facebook, an application made possible thanks to the newly-released Facebook status API. The option are pretty limited so far: Users can see friends’ updates, and can updates their status too. So far, that is it. No reply to an item is yet possible.

The app works fine so far, and this first release really is a more of a way to communicate on the team’s ongoing development effort to integrate Facebook in the Thwirl experience.

From Thwirl’s CEO:

I know, you want Twhirl and Facebook in the same window, it’s coming and we will get you a #teamseesmic preview in a few weeks.

Three things from this app gave me a itch though: First the settings button doesn’t work (at least it didn’t when I tried), which is too bad because I would have liked to see my configuration options. Facebook is the social network that has the most privacy settings, so it is interesting to see how third-party apps adjust to that.

The second thing I didn’t understand is why the application is called Seesmic for Facebook, and not Thwirl for Facebook. Seesmic Inc has two products: the Seesmic video product, and the social app Thwirl. I already expressed how I find the company’s strategy a little confusing for the moment (even though I see where they are going with this), but for this app, I don’t see anything linked to Seesmic whatsoever.

Third and least, upon launch, the app will open your browser and make you go through Facebook to authorize the app’s access to your account. I know, that is where Facebook could do a few stretches to make it easier for third-party apps to work with them. Still, for the Seesmic for Facebook preview app, it opens three tabs:

So once you have 3 Facebook tabs open in your browser, do you really need a Facebook app running on your desktop?

Those are meant to be constructive feedbacks for this alpha product, and overall, I’m glad to see that Thwirl is becoming a fuller social messenger 🙂

Introduction To Video Atomization

video formats

In the actual trends of online video, startups focus on many different and crucial dimensions of the video business:

  • Visible Measures focus on providing a robust analytics platform for video distribution businesses.
  • Seesmic focuses on bringing videos to our online social interactions.
  • Blinkx is a leader in video search.
  • Youtube is the emperor of user-generated video.
  • Revver has pioneered in bringing ad dollars to content creators.
  • Hulu is trying to figure out a profitable business model for distributing big budget movies online.
  • Kyte empowers content creators’ channels.
  • Veeker bridges your mobile videos to your online networks.
  • And so on…

I see something missing there. None of those companies focus on changing the format of the video to create new consumption styles. If you seriously consider the way we consume media today, it is mainly through small screens. We prefer streaming videos to save space on our hard-disks. We have portable media players to watch a clip while we wait for the bus or when in line at the post office.

Podcasts never reached the heights expected for the simple reason that behind a micro-media format, the content was the same. People were recording boring 10-minute clips that had only 30 seconds of interesting content. Take Robert Scoble’s Podtech show. The guy gets to meet all the cool crowd of the Silicon Valley. However, sorry to say that, but the video quality sucks! It’s boring, slow, unexciting, with a shaky hand filming, an unorganized content… Scoble is popular so 2.0 entrepreneurs like to be in his show. However, I was doing the same kind of low-quality video until recently, and let me tell you that my interviewees were not really excited with the results.

My point is that Scoble’s videos could really hit the jackpot if Podtech realizes that videos need to be remodeled before being put online. Furthermore, instead of putting the whole file raw in their database, maybe they could splice it into mini-files, making the video’s content more directly accessible to the viewers.

Seesmic invite received

Seesmic

I woke up this morning with an invite from Loic Le Meur to try Seesmic out.

First I really like the name for a startup located on the San Andreas fault. On the feature side of things, Seesmic is still pretty limited. A lifestream on the left sidebar, twitter-like socialization following system, a plugin to post your videos on Twitter, video capture from webcam, Youtube, or Camtasia, and your url not hyperlinked.

As soon as I stepped in, I asked other users what grand things one could do with Seesmic. Here is the answer of djuggler, writer of the blog realityme.net:

Probably that Seesmic is more than just a knowledge-sharing platform, and I am curious to see how it could be used for marketing purposes (I’m not talking spamming the site, but pure one-to-few marketing).

In the meantime, here’s a discussion between snake girl and pirates of the Caribbean about hats – btw it’s in French, there’s a lot of Frenchitude on this site too: