Monday, June 27, 2005
Interview with David Cronshaw, MediaTuner
David Cronshaw is founder of MediaTuner, a Westlake Village-based company that recently launched its rich media blog reader. I caught up with David to get an idea of how his company is attacking the blog market, and how rich media fits into the mix.
BK: What made you decide to develop MediaTuner?
DC: What prompted me to develop this product was the realization that Rich Media was was taking off, but no "TV Guide" to organize it.
In 1993 I saw the first version of Mozilla 1.0 and it changed my life. At the time, I was a News Cameraman in Los Angeles and had just come off of the LA Riots. People kept coming up to me in the field and saying what a terrible thing the riots had been, and that they had watched the events live on television but felt helpless as the events of the days progressed.
That led me to understand that the problem with television was that there was no "feedback loop" for the viewer. Call the station, mail the station with comments, both would fall on deaf ears.
As I viewed the demonstration in 1993 of the world's first browser, I saw the future of the "feedback loop" as well as the future of publishing.
That led me to cofound with NBC VP Entertanement Jeff Rowe Zap2it.com in 1996, which morphed into a guide for everything television. We beat TV Guide to the online world, created the first Online TV Listings where you could search and view online tv listings in grid/text form, as well as provide the first tv fan communities.
We had a deal with The WB and created the first "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" official website. We witnessed what a TV Show and online posting board could do to promote a show and create an online community.
As a result of all of this, I became a fan of being able to promote communities as well as encourage feedback loops and create easy-to-use organizational applications (TV Listings/Movie Showtimes). Zap2it was sold to the Tribune Company and Zap2it TV Listings still power the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, NY Newsday to name a few of over 200 online newspapers.
When I saw the possibilities of RSS over a year ago, I immediately saw the ability to organize Rich Media into one easy-to-use web-based applications. RSS stand for Rich site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. Basically it is standardized text code which allows web content producers to display links to news content and summaries. Lately it has included the option to include any type of media file, such as MP3s, Pictures and Video files.
Right after this type of Rich Media RSS was developed, I met a Macromedia Flash guru that Macromedia said was a "Rock Star" programmer -Fernando Florez. Fernando is an expert with next-generation Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). RIAs are apps that are Flash-Based, dynamic applications that are one-screen experiences. No need for seperate html pages to be sequenced through. The applications are very dynamic and stay on one screen.
We came up with MediaTuner after seeing downloadable RSS Reader applications, as well as web based html RSS Readers. At the same time, RSS 2.0 with Media Enclosures such as Podcasts started to become commonplace. We extended MediaTuner to be able to organize Podcasts, Video Blogs, Text Blogs, Images etc. all in an easy-to-use Flash-user experience.
BK: What's the difference between MediaTuner and all of the other RSS readers on the market?
DC: At the moment the RSS Readers out there are focused on reading text and news information only. There are two types of applications. Web based and downloadable applications.
As far as Rich Media RSS, there is only one other application available, which users have to download and install. MediaTuner is the only application that is completely web based and has the ability to play and view 80 different file types, including Flash Video, Real,Windows Media, Quicktime and Pictures to name a few.
Just like webmail, if user is on the road, they can log into MediaTuner from any computer and check their feeds.
BK: Where is the company in terms of stage and funding?
DC: Presently we have been funded by family and friends who know that we have developed successful and profitable Web-based applications since 1994. We are presently working on Version 2.0 and actively seeking capital.
BK: Are people able to download your application now, and how are they using it?
DC: At the present moment, people can go to www.mediatuner.com and sign up for a free account and start watching Video Blogs and listen to Podcasts! The beauty of it is that there is no need to download and install any software. Just like hotmail and gmail, it is all browser-based.
We have thousands of users who have already signed up for the service. Every day there are hundreds of new Video Blogs and Podcasts that people are creating. MediaTuner allows you to easily find and watch/listen to this user-generated content. From feedback we have received, people are getting hooked on certain shows, just as they do with TV Shows.
However, we have found that people are watching less TV, and watching more Video Blogs.
BK: What's the next steps for you in your product development?
DC: The next step for MediaTuner is to allow users to automatically download Podcasts to iPods as well as videos to Personal Video Players. (PVPs) such as the Play Station Portable (PSP) and create the next generation of Podcast and Video Blog stars.
We are also developing the next generation Rich Media advertising model for this user-generated content.