Shawn Parker and Sean Fanning are at it again. You know them as the founders of Napster and you saw Mr. Parker in the Social Network.
Remember Chatroulette and how exciting it was until you saw your 23rd crotch shot in the first 10 minutes? Parker and Fanning were both involved with the highly-visible real-time chat program. The problem? After a big media splash, people stopped using the service and the founder was left pondering the question, of how to Monetize 50,000 Naked Men.
Chatroulette never really recovered, and a number of clones emerged, none of which made much of an impact except for being popular search terms driving people here.
Parker and Fanning are back with project Supyo (“What’s up, yo”), a web-based video chat service that aims to connect like-minded people (full article at TechCrunch).
The two masterminds believe that live interaction between people is the next big thing in social networking. Guess who else agrees with them? Rob Glasser, the founder of Real Networks, who just launched SocialEyes on Facebook. As if things weren’t interesting enough, Tech Crunch’s own Michael Arrington is involved with project Supyo.
As usual, the adult industry has beaten everyone to the punch, capitalizing on free live video and tipping/bidding, long before dating sites like What’s Your Price popped up on the radar. But that is to be expected.
I saw this all coming together when I was writing a business plan to create Skype Cafe five years ago. The idea was interest and geography-based Skype chat rooms. We were too early on that one but it was and is a killer idea as evidenced by the recent spate of big names and funding. Not to mention the fact that people are slowly becoming more comfortable with video, which brings us all a step closer to the real-time connected web.
Crystal ball moment: First we had books, now we have computers. The next step is losing the wires and participating in consciousness-based networks. Think Matrix and meta meditation. Fascinating stuff.
Live-blogging, live events, chat, updates, tweets and video are all hot topics. How hot? Supyo is supposedly going to raise $10 million very soon.
While Speeddate is good at making tons of money on live video dates, live social video is going to be orders of magnitude larger in terms of opportunity and market size. Just look at how many people do live video chat on Skype as an indicator of where things are going.
There have been webcam chat programs and Instant Messenger apps around for over a decade, but anyone who has ever been in an AOL or Yahoo chat room know those were heavy on the yuk factor.
Smart people keep talking about the value of live local video. From the dating perspective there is little reason to go out on a first date without first having a videochat to see if the other person is worth it. Why local? I don’t want to talk to someone in another country, I want a date I can drive to. Show me all women within 25 miles of me who can do video on their phones or laptops and invite them to videochat with me (if I pass through their requirements filter.) Facetime on the iPhone or Skype is brilliant for this.
People will argue against video introductions all day long but they are not seeing the big picture. The rest of us would like to save ourselves from bad first dates, pricey dinners and the “I’m 1/2-way into my first drink and this is not working” feeling singles are all-too familiar with.
There are going to have to be all sorts of ways to keep men’s pants on and the community manageable (insert usual paragraph about trust, reputation and identity). That is what we call non-trivial and why I’m sure Supyo will end up going through several iterations until they figure out the right balance of permissiveness and community.
It will be interesting to see how people around the world start using live videochat when its tied into the social graph (how Facebook knows about your friends and their friend and how you’re all connected). I don’t think anyone can know how it will be used until everyone has their cameras turned on. There will be brilliant services, found love, weird stuff and plenty of problems along the way, but thats pretty much the norm for disruptive social tools.
Social sites offering video with a dating component or dating sites offering video profiles and chat. Which has a better chance of being adopted by singles?