Click to viewBoomTown's Kara Swisher paused in making ribald jokes about Joost's London office to report that the online-video purveyor will be offering six full seasons of NBC's former hit Friends. With this, Joost will reach an audience who prefers New York City when there's no black people, just like in dated sitcoms and Woody Allen movies. But I digress. NBC-backed Hulu only offers snippets of Friends episodes. Joost isn't exactly going to take off with syndicated reruns you can watch on dozens of cable channels. For those of you desperate to relive Ross and Rachel, the site will relaunch in mid-October — no plugin required.
Online-video startup Joost — whose name we think is Estonian for "trouble" — will cease development of its little-used desktop application and focus exclusively on a long-expected Web-browser plugin. None of which solves Joost's biggest problem: a lack of compelling content. Considering how difficult it was for NBC to convince many to download Microsoft's Silverlight browser plugin for online coverage of the Olympics, it's unlikely that users will flock to download something from an even more obscure company, especially when Adobe is building features similar to Joost's into Flash.But hey, Joost's plugin adds a social layer and RSS feeds! What, nothing for Facebook or the iPhone? If you're going to placate disgruntled investors like Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman with technology buzzwords, try to pick something they might have heard of. Cofounder Niklas Zennström might want to stick to yachting, because at least that enterprise is a winner.
At Skandia Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight, Niklas Zennström's racing yacht Ran won five of seven races amongst the largest class of boats, and won the overall title without having to race on the final day. Zennström joined the competitive yachting class after successfully suckering eBay into buying Skype. His latest project, Joost, however, couldn't generate enough hype to raise the spinnaker, with the online video startup's sails continuing to
luft luff in dead winds. (Photo by Rick Tomlinson)
Haven't heard much about Joost lately? That's because the online-video startup, founded by the same obstreperous Europeans behind Kazaa and Skype, seems to be going exactly nowhere. It is the opposite of newsworthy, with its software-based approach to video distribution having been completely undone by YouTube and Adobe's Flash technology. Adobe is adding peer-to-peer distribution, Joost's main distinction, and even investors like Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman have taken to dissing it. Could there be worse news? We can't imagine it. But Joost's flack can.
The latest iteration of Joost, the once-hot, now decidedly not video startup from the people who brought you Skype, will work in your browser — but only if you download a plugin from Joost. And while Joost struggles to find good content, Adobe is rolling file sharing into its Flash player, beating Joost's new plugin to the punch. NBC has worked with file-sharing content delivery platforms in the past, and Hulu — a site backed with quality content — uses Flash. I'm sure the Joost developers are tech whizzes, but even our journalist math puts them on the wrong side of this equation. (Photo by Job D.)
Joost, the once wired, now tired Internet-TV revolutionary, has hired away Danny Passman and John Schultz from Dailymotion where they were both creative directors. Schultz will be director and Passman head of global programming strategy. While the company does need help with better content, they're also getting whipped by Hulu because of the latter's simple browser interface. [MediaWeek]
Joost yesterday hired Jason Gaedtke as its new chief software architect. Joost's last top engineer, the recently departed CTO Dirk-Willem van Gulik fared poorly with his coworkers, one of whom described him as "an arrogant, condescending jerk." Gaedtke will face less peer review, if only because fewer people now work at Joost. Three marketers lost their jobs with the company yesterday as part of Joost's efforts to "streamline its operations," as NewTeeVee reports.
Why has professional tech curmudgeon John C. Dvorak changed his initial opinion of Joost, the Internet television service? Why, because it now contains his own content. In his January review of Joost, Dvorak summed up the offering in "two words: it stinks." Dvorak complained about Joost's tracking of user habits for advertising purposes and background interruptions from the application. But he reserved his largest complaint for the content offerings: "The only content is infomercials for last-gen rock bands with emphasis on Green Day and its Hitler Youth-style concerts." Dvorak warned that if Joost didn't focus on content, it would soon "be a memory." Now that Dvorak's CrankyGeeks has its own Joost channel, we're sure the hard-to-please reviewer loves the smell of Joost's stinky content. Sniffing your own armpits again, eh, John?
WEB 2.0 SUMMIT — Current.com CEO Joel Hyatt — yes, the guy from the lawyer ads — is rambling about "the magical elements of the Internet." He's bragging on, of course, his website-cum-cable channel's supposedly fantastic library of loser-generated content, and the me-too social-network features on its relaunched site. And then Hyatt lays this zinger on the audience: "YouTube isn't a business." Joost CEO Mike Volpi, also on stage, immediately disagrees, pointing to YouTube's "$20 CPMs" — the high rates the Google-owned site is able to charge for video advertising. Hyatt has no response to that. One wonders what rates his video site is able to charge. And what Current.com partner Al Gore, a senior advisor to Google, thinks of his YouTube jab.
Yippee! No more crappy, blurry YouTube videos! No more pixelated garbage filling every corner of the Web! Adobe's addition of the advanced H.264 high-definition codec — "codec" being a fancy way of saying "video algorithm" — to its popular Flash software. Flash, of course, has become the ubiquitous means of distributing video on the Web. Adding H.264 will finally bring high-quality moving images into the Web mainstream, and put an end to the rein of amateurism in online video. Or will it? Not so fast.
Sun Valley, the quiet Idaho ski resort town, is about to get a charge from Silicon Valley. Allen & Co., the New York investment bank, has been holding an exclusive conference there for 25 years, but until recently, the invite list has been limited to old-media moguls. On the invite list for this year's conference, which kicks off tonight: Jay Adelson, CEO of Digg, the social-news website, which he cofounded with Kevin Rose. Here's why we think Adelson's on the list — and who else might show up.
We obviously spoke too soon when calling video tech jobs the object of the online video gold rush. Content deals are where it's at. Big fish like Viacom are going to Joost, while singing their own praises in terms of pushing internal video. Joost in turn is pursuing moderate players like JumpTV. Not to be outdone, Google has signed up the BBC for Youtube, even while it pursues a host of littler deals (and we enjoy how the New York Times likens the NBA to a "smaller media company"). So if you have some video content lying around that no one is bothering to pirate anyway, why not cash in with a little Youtube money? It's a seller's market, at least for the next 30 days or so.
A love-letter to Joost in Time notes that the imminent video site has inked a deal with international net-TV distributor JumpTV. Brought to you by the dudes behind Kazaa and Skype, Joost is aiming high content-wise, having already secured agreements with Viacom among others. Joost's model of premium-video only doesn't necessarily make it a Youtube-killer as Time would have you believe, but it's gaining ground with big-time corporate content owners and advertisers. Plus, this new deal gives you another way to watch Al Jazeera in the States.
Viacom—which yesterday reported fourth-quarter earnings of $480.8 million—doesn't want its employees on the other side of the Atlantic to feel like they've been left out of all the recent firing fun. To that end, reports the Guardian, the company "plans to axe around 250 jobs from its MTV Networks International business, which operates channels including MTV, Nickelodeon and VH1 in the UK. This represents around 8% of MTVNI's total workforce of 3,257." Tough break, kids. At least you go out knowing your freed-up salaries will help finance that Joost deal!