Monday, December 18, 2006

Skype Founders The Venice Project

I just read this in business week......

Skype co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom are preparing to unveil their latest venture to the public—a video Web site that combines professionally produced TV and video with the interactive tools of the Web.The Venice Project, as the startup is now known, launched a Web site ( over the summer and began testing its software on a very limited basis. Only about 100 people are on the system, Friis said in an interview with The so-called beta test will be expanded dramatically by the middle of November, he said. "By the end of the year, everyone will be able to download it. Hopefully, it's viral and it gains traction," Friis said.The current code name will be replaced with a new brand, though Friis declined to say what the official name will be. The Venice Project is currently trying to convince a range of small, medium, and large media and TV companies to place their full-length, professionally produced content on the network, although anyone will be able to post video on the network. It's also talking to advertisers and marketers that could place video ads on the network. "People love to watch TV. They love professional storytelling by people who know what they are doing. And people love the Internet, because of the choice and the social qualities. We are trying to bring the best of both worlds together," Friis said.COOL CAPABILITIES. The existence of the project was first reported on by in July (see, 7/24/06, "Kazaa, Skype, and now 'The Venice Project'"). has since received an exclusive demonstration of how the system works.To get started, users need to download a piece of software from the Web and install it on their PCs. When they boot up, the software will connect to the Web and open a full-screen window displaying "near high-definition" quality video images.While the software turns your PC screen into something that looks a lot like your TV, the capabilities go far beyond anything you'll experience in your den. Jiggle your computer mouse, and a variety of tools appear along the edges of the screen, even as the video continues to play. At the bottom of the screen, there are controls like those on a DVD player, including stop, pause, and fast-forward, as well as a search window to find new videos. An image on the left includes a menu of preset channels. And on the right, there's a set of interactive tools that let you share video playlists with friends or family. An image at the top of the screen identifies the channel and the name of the clip you're watching. All of the images can be expanded by clicking on them with a mouse.

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