Monday, December 12, 2005
Interview with Dmitry Shapiro, CEO of Veoh
My interview this morning is with Dmitry Shapiro, CEO of Veoh, a Web 2.0 startup located in La Jolla. Veoh is developing a peer-to-peer based, content delivery network over broadband Internet. I asked Dmitry a few questions about Veoh and how it fits into the Internet video space.
BK: What is Veoh, and what does your software do?
DS: Veoh is an Internet Television Network that is able to reach anyone with a broadband Internet connection and a PC or a Mac. All you need to do to watch is download and install the Veoh software (~ 5MB, installs in under one minute).
Veoh allows anyone to create and broadcast their own TV show or a Channel full of shows. Not small streaming videos, but FULL-Screen, TV-Quality video. Unlike the Flickr's of Video (like YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), Veoh does not transcode the content, but rather offers it in it's native encoding, and does not limit the file sizes/length of video. Veoh's goal is to become the platform for producers of all sizes (from individuals to studios and everyone in between) to have a democratized TV broadcasting system.
Veoh is unregulated so it is a true FREE SPEECH television network, politically unbiased and unaffiliated.
Show publishers can publish an unlimited number of shows, with unlimited length, and reach an unlimited number of people, without paying a cent in storage or bandwidth charges. Veoh utilizes a homegrown P2P network (similar to BitTorrent, but built with content security features and better at penetrating firewalls) to dissipate the costs of delivering these large files. Veoh will make money through advertising and sale of premium content.
BK: How did you come up with the idea, and how did the company come about?
DS: I'm a big believer in the human race and its responsibility to the world. We're a species that's highly evolved, and we're doing lots of things that are positive and negative to the world.
The most potent medium to influence human understanding of important issues - such as politics and morality - is television. One of the reasons why a third political party can't get elected today is they can't afford to broadcast on TV. They can't get their message across. I want to give them the opportunity to get their message across. On TV, they can't get the message across to the masses because the TV networks would rather put up an episode of "Friends" rather than put on an intelligent show on how we're destroying this planet.
TV is controlled by the privileged few broadcasters who are looking straight at the bottom line. I have nothing against the bottom line, but I think the medium of television needs to be democratized. The medium needs to be open to everyone, and when it's open, it changes everything in the world. I want to change the power equation of television, where the people have the power.
BK: Who are your investors, and at what stage is the company?
DS: Veoh closed a series A round of financing with Shelter Capital Partners in August of 2005
BK: How did you find Shelter, and how difficult was it for you to raise your Series A?
DS: Shelter discovered Veoh through their network of business contacts. Raising capital is always challenging, and requires lots of patience. While other competing syndicates took months to conduct due diligence and assemble their partners, Shelter was able to do it in just over one month.
BK: Why did you decide to go with a software application, rather than with the web-based streaming video?
DS: Web-based streaming video is expensive to deliver and is limited to small, grainy visuals. With Veoh's proprietary P2P delivery system through its software network, viewers enjoy full-size TV-quality video.
BK: There's lots of competition in the space to deliver Web 2.0 video programming--how's Veoh different?
DS: Veoh provides a social network around the content, making it easy for the audience to interact with the publishers and with each other. You can link directly to your Veoh show from MySpace, any other social network, or from your own website or blog. You can also forward shows to your friends, and get shows forwarded to you.
Veoh has over 10,000 shows available for immediate consumption. If you're worried about being exposed to adult content, Veoh has a built-in family filter that is on by default. You can choose what rating not to go above.
Veoh integrates with the Video iPod, and soon the Sony PSP, allowing users to watch their Veoh videos on those devices. In fact, Veoh has over 3,000 videos for the iPod (enough to fill one up completely), and more videos being added hourly.
BK: There's been a lot of controversy over P2P networks --how have you handled issues with firewalls, security, and the fear of viruses and malware being delivered via P2P?
DS: Our engineers and I have spent the last five years dealing with various P2P networks including BitTorrent, eDonkey and FastTrack, as well as the dozens of applications that support these protocols, including Grokster, KaZaa and Morpheus. We have created a new protocol that sets a new standard in terms of both technology and legitimacy for content owners. In contrast to earlier approaches, our focus from inception has been respecting the rights of content owners.
We use advanced firewall traversal technology to provide excellent performance to all users without firewall adjustments or decreasing security requirements. And our technology was specifically designed to provide DMCA compliance, unlike traditional systems that do not take this in to account and enable the rampant piracy of intellectual property.
BK: Finally, as an entrepreneur, what has been the most challenging part of getting Veoh up and running, and what have you learned as a result?
DS: This is my second venture backed startup, and contrary to popular belief, it is not easier the second time around. It is a matter of talking to enough people to find the ones that REALLY get it. When you find those people, the deal closes quickly. If it takes you a long time to get investors to understand what you are doing and its value, they are probably the wrong investors.