The discarded assets of distressed video site Veoh are helping an early stage company build its own business. Qlipso acquired the assets of online video site Veoh in mid-March. At the time, Veoh was in the process of filing for bankruptcy due in part to the costs of a lawsuit brought on by Universal Music Group. Last September, a federal district court ruled Veoh qualified for a DMCA safe harbor and cannot be held liable for the infringements of its users . (UMG is appealing the court’s grant of summary judgment on this issue.) Although protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, legal costs proved too damaging to the startup.
Now, says Qlipso CEO Jon Goldman, Veoh is being integrated into the company’s strategy. Qlipso has a technology that allows people to create online forums in which they can share media. It’s like going to a friend’s house and watching videos. In acquiring Veoh’s assets, Qlipso was able to more quickly acquire a significant number of users.
Billboard spoke with Goldman about the Veoh assets, how Qlipso wants to change the way people share video and an existence in a legally dangerous segment of the market.
How are Veoh and Qlipso integrated right now?
They aren’t now, the team is working on it. Stage one when you pick up an asset like this is understanding it and stabilizing it. So we’re stabilizing it and running it. Meanwhile, the Qlipso development team is working on a roadmap on bringing some Qlipso social functionality to Veoh.
What’s your goal for using Veoh with Qlipso?
What’s attractive about it is in spite of the business distress, is it has remained a large audience to scale all over the world. It’s a global audience of literally tens of millions of users in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and they’ve stayed with it. They’ve got a pretty passionate community around entertainment and a good track record of long viewing times.
Our goal is to take that audience that loves content and socially engage them. Allow them to hang out with each other and interact. There’s a lot of evidence out there that the mass market has tipped over into the social web doing things like Facebook, talking on Skype. I think that the next logical step is to move beyond just updating one another on your Facebook wall. You can actually interact with one another socially. I think the way people interact offline is through media. They go to ball games together, they go to concerts, they watch movies, they get together to watch TV. We want to bring that sort of experience to the Web.
Qlipso acts as a venue where people gather to share and watch media. Is it good for any type of media over another? Do users use it for any type of media over another?
It’s a completely at the user’s preference. Qlipso supports Flash-based media, so that could be music, games, some undefineable category of widgets that provide some entertainment and fun, Flickr slideshows so you can share the family slide show. Any sort of content. It works as a venue where you can have an event, but it also works as a personal media room, kind of like inviting friends over to a TV room opposed to a huge auditorium.
It works live and synchronously. It works in a much better way than bookmarks. It saves all the media you like. So when the friends you allow to visit are there, you can put up not just bookmark after bookmark but they can see everything you think is cool and represents your personality. I think it really enhances the ability to interact with one another through media.
Do you allow for people to tap into their existing social networks? Facebook, for example?
Yes. You can import your Facebook friends.
Can you walk me through what you’ve done about licensing content?
Veoh had a lot of different content licenses previously. When you do a change-of-control transaction you need to assign those over. So what we’re working on now is assigning those over some of the important ones and working on that paperwork.
We’ll be reaching out to content providers, too. We’ve got a pretty good youth audience, so there’s lots of stuff like action sports, cars, music that could enhance the site.
Are you comfortable operating in a business with so many legal thorns in it? Veoh had legal problems involving DMCA takedown notices and the costs [of the lawsuit] was very prohibitive to running that business.
I’d like to make it clear that we did not assume any of those liabilities. What I will say is the previous company won a pretty strong summary judgment. So strong that an undisclosed party – we can guess who – is continuing to fight the appeal, so they must have some confidence that judgment will stick.
In terms of the precautions we’re taking, we’re using software, we’re hiring bodies, we offer publishers take-down tools so they can initiate take-down notices of infringing material. We’re going to make strong and best efforts to make sure content holders think of Veoh as an excellent partner.