Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Capturing Music, Life, and More With Vyclone, with David King Lassman
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
What's the best way to capture the important things in your life on video, and share them with friends? Los Angeles-based Vyclone (www.vyclone.com) has created a mobile application which lets users capture videos, and automatically edits and combines multiple points of view from people nearby, and remixes it into an even more compelling video. The startup--which has the backing of such high profile investors as Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary's A-Grade Investments, Dreamworks, and Live Nation--also has some major partnership with entertainers like Madonna and No Doubt to create crowdsourced videos of their events. We caught up with CEO David King Lassman to hear what the company's up to.
What's the idea behind Vyclone?
David King Lassman: We started Vyclone almost two and a half years ago. It came out of the brain of my good friend and co-founder, Joe Sumner, who is a rock musician. He had been onstage at a very big gig in Eastern Europe, in Lithuania, of all places. On previous gigs, there had been hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people recording the concert on their smartphones, and the very next day, were posting good quality videos onto YouTube. He had the epiphany, which was to take all of those videos, and bring them together into some kind of musical, synchronized movie. He met me in LA to talk about the idea, and we started developing a prototype to deliver a solution in this area. We brought together some very brilliant engineers I'd known from my former companies in the technology industry, and we built this really as something that would deliver value to the music industry. We connect all of the videos in a rock concert, so that you can start to do something meaningful around that, and provide a commercial, enterprise return to music and the music industry, and its stakeholders. After we built the prototype, we sort of stumbled on that this was much bigger than music. It was really a kind of social, collaborative video solution, which has as much resonance in something in an intimate setting like someone blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. It's as much about your grandparents as it is about a concert, or event might be something for a political rally or fashion show. We've built an expansive piece of technology in our app, put it out to the public in the middle of July, and the movies that have been generated have been absolutely fantastic.
What's your background?
David King Lassman: I actually trained to be a musician, and went to music college. To supplement my income, I started a software business. I started that business in 1989, and by the time I graduated from college, it was doing very well. I decided to stay for a little longer, and eventually wanted to go back to music. But, I got the bug, and loved starting businesses, so I sold some, and lost some. The last I sold was in 2004, when I relocated to Los Angeles. I started a consultancy out here when Joe had that idea, and he thought I'd be a good person to talk to because of my background. It was the most exciting venture I'd come across, and felt it really was an opportunity to not just create something disruptive, but as a way to leave a legacy. It really excited me, so I was very happy not to just get up in the morning, but stay up late to work on this and putting in all of the hours a startup requires.
How difficult was it to get this to work on the technology side?
David King Lassman: I'm sure if you speak to any technology company, they'll tell you the idea only accounts for so much. The rest is execution. The first part of that, is you have to have the right team in place. We basically worked out where the most challenging area of the technology would look like, and set about identifying the best person or people to rise to those challenges. The result meant that we now have a team that is international. We have an office in London, and office here in Los Angeles. Some of the technical expertise resides here. As for the rest of the development, we went back to my roots in London. There, a lot of the old guys were working at banks, working for companies like Nokia, and other mobile companies in Europe. All of them left their positions, took a huge pay cut to work on the project, because it inspired them. Suffice it to say, something like this hasn't existed before, and it was extremely challenging.
What originally brought you to LA?
David King Lassman: LA is my home, and has been since 2004. There are many reasons for being based out of Los Angeles. One, as you know, is the emerging technology community, one that will continue to grow. Los Angeles, and Southern California as a whole, is becoming an international hotbed for technology. I think there's a lot of reasons for that. One, is as the film industry declines a bit in Los Angeles, there's some fantastic, creative energy and technical talent available here. That's been put to good work in the technology space. Los Angeles is also home to media, the home of entertainment, the home of great content. It also felt utterly logical to be based here, because Joe's home is here too. The reason we have London as our European base, is because of my deep roots there. There are many people there that I could have work on the project, and London is a great hotbed of technology. They've been pulling resources from all over Europe. If you go to our London office, there's a good mix of European talent we're drawing from. Of course, the world is so much smaller now, with great communications products, which means that it's very easy to stay in the loop. We often do our programming between here and London, on a 24/7 development cycle.
It looks like you have a number of entertainment partnerships already?
David King Lassman: We found, when we starting showing our prototype around town, that it generated a great deal of interest from the entertainment industry. We took an investment from Ashton Kutcher and his A-Grade Investments, the firm he runs along with Guy Oseary, Madonna's manager. We also brought Live Nation and Dreamworks into the investment. Dreamworks was interesting, because they identified this as a great opportunity to expand their portfolio of technology. Technology drives their business, and they built their own app to try to exploit the space. What we like to say, is by filming an event, whatever event that might be, whether that's something intimate like a birthday party or wedding, you can have our system algorithmically edit that into a movie, so that story becomes richer. That's what made Dreamworks. You can also edit that all in the phone, and you can even take any movie shared in the public domain, and re-edit on your phone in real time. That's a very exciting part of our product, which allows your inner Scorsese to jump out. When we took the investment from Ashton, that of course gave us a fantastic bridge into the entertainment community. We're also beginning to engage with communities in other areas of entertainment, who are using Vyclone as a marketing device to communicate with consumers.
What's the next thing for you?
David King Lassman: We've got a very lofty vision in the business. We want to create something where anyone can hold up their mobile device, and they'll automatically have access to the video filmed on devices around them. In order to achieve that, we need ubiquity. We're looking to partner strategically with companies that can help drive that. Expect to see big developments in products that will open up Vyclone to a much wider audience. We'll also be launching Android in the not too distant future, because we want to make this as inclusive as possible. That's all about expanding our technology, and expanding our reach through strategic alliances and partnerships. We want to become a fantastic discovery network, where you can find content made by everyone.