Video Search has been around a long time. My group at AltaVista was a pioneer in web video search back in 1996. The multi-media search technology is still in use today at Yahoo. Since then many startups and big players have entered the video search space. Are any of them making money? Are there any clear leaders?
VCs often call me for advice when they are considering investments in sectors or specific companies. I just did a meeting about the video search space. In preparation for the meeting I compiled a list, from various web sources, of companies involved in video search/sharing/tagging, and community. I was surprised to find over 50 companies, and I am sure I missed a bunch more.
My take? There is some great technology out there but no good business models or monetization mechanisms. The biggest players in the industry are making bets in this space and none of them have paid off yet. I don't see that changing for many years.
Google bought YouTube which combined great search technology with the biggest video library available. Google certainly knows the advertising game too. So, how is it working out for them? Well, the polite answer is...it's too early to tell. But, it is a good bet that they will figure it out in the long run and make it successful.
AOL bought Truveo and I would say the circumstances and results are about the same. Again, politely, it is too early to tell.
Yahoo, Microsoft, and Ask also have video search offerings. It is sort of expected that a world class search engine will have video, image, and music search. Do they attract big traffic numbers or revenues? Probably not, but it is considered "table stakes". With all these big players in the game do startups have a chance?
The innovative start-ups are not discouraged. They are charging ahead with new video search ideas. Many of them are adding social networks around video. They are adding sharing, voting, tagging, comments, and all the typical social networking features around video search hoping that will create a viable business model.
Take a look at these 58 web video companies as examples of different ways to approach the problem. In alphabetical order...
AOL Uncut, Blip, Blinkz, Break, Brightcove, Clesh, Cuts, Dabble, Daily Motion, Dave.tv, DivX Stage 6, eefoof, EveryZing, Eyeka, Eyespot, Fliqz, FlixYa, Forscene, Google Video, Gotuit, Grouper, iFilm, JayCut, Jumpcut, Kewego, LiveVideo, Lycos Mix, Metacafe, Mojiti, MotionBox, MyHeavy, MyNumo, MySpaceTV, Ning, OneTrueMedia, PodTech, Photobucket, Revver, SevenLoad, Soapbox, StashSpace, Sumo, Twango, Veoh, Viddler, Vidilife, Vimeo, Vmix, VodPod, Vsocial, Webshots, Yahoo Video, YouAreTV, YouTube, Yurth, Zeec and Ziddio.
What do you think? How many did I miss? Who do you think will emerge as winners? What business model will work? Should video content include video advertisements or standard text ads? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Oh, in case you are wondering...my advice to this investment group was to pass. There are lots of other areas to invest with better prospects for profits.