(continued from previous page)
Since this is all professionally produced content, how will you deal with the whole pirating and digital rights management issues?
Volpi: First, the only content that gets on Joost is from an authorized content owner. And once the content is injected into the system, it's encrypted. Authorized users can then watch it on their computers, but they can't copy it or record it. So even though it's a peer-to-peer service they can't upload or rip the video. And the second time they want to watch it, they have to stream it again to watch it.
But doesn't Apple's iTunes offer something similar? Why wouldn't people just buy the shows they want to see from Apple?
Volpi: The Joost programs are streamed in real time. iTunes requires people to download and then you wait to play it. Also with iTunes you have to pay for movies. With Joost, it's free. It's all advertising-supported. So while iTunes allows the Internet to replace the DVD market, Joost is a substitute for traditional TV.
So people have to watch advertisements throughout the streaming video clip?
Volpi: Yes, they'll sit through periodic ads, but it's free. And the great thing about Joost for advertisers is that we know exactly where our viewers are because they are all connecting using an IP (Internet Protocol) address. We also know what they've watched in the past and for how long. So advertisers can do precise, tailored advertising to a particular individual rather than blasting the same commercial to millions of TV viewers. So if you and someone else were watching the same thing on your laptops sitting right next to each other, it's very likely that you will each see different ads.
At Cisco you led the service provider team that sold huge pieces of hardware equipment to telephone companies and even some cable operators. You're more of a hardware guy. What do you know about video entertainment?
Volpi: I had some dealings with the entertainment and content world when I managed the Scientific Atlanta product line, so I got some exposure to it while I was at Cisco. I wouldn't claim to be an expert in media. So there is a lot of room to learn. And there are a lot of good people at Joost who know a ton about media. But Joost also has a significant amount of technology. And although I think it's unfair to say that I am just a hardware guy, Cisco had a lot of software too. I think managing engineers is something I know a little bit about. Incidentally, Joost has about 100 employees and the majority of them are engineers.
But a lot of this is about running a company, managing growth and being a good manager. I think I got a lot of very good experience at Cisco. We ran a good company over there.
A lot of Web 2.0 start-ups have gotten acquired. Is Joost more likely to be acquired than remain independent?
Volpi: I worked for a large multinational company already, and I wouldn't have come here if that's what I wanted to do. I think if we do things right, Joost could grow into a large viable organization on its own.
You handled mergers and acquisitions at Cisco for a while. Do you see Joost growing by acquiring other companies?
Volpi: That's pretty far down the road. We're a small company trying to figure things out still.
How do you see Joost's technology and strategy evolving over the next year?
Volpi: We are still in beta right now with half a million users, and we'll continue to be in beta a little while longer. We'll probably get the full release out in 2008. And we need to continue to execute on the vision and ensure that we have interesting content for people to watch.
We've already got CBS, Viacom, Turner Broadcast and some other major content providers. We've also got some good niche brands. And we should be able to continue to add content. There is a great deal of interest among content producers. And we've already had a lot of success with advertisers. We've got 36 big names, like Hewlett-Packard, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Motorola, all signed up for our trial service. Clearly that says something is interesting to them.
Where do you think people will be watching Joost content? On their cell phones, PCs, TVs?
Volpi: The demographic we're going after is 19- to 30-year-olds who are Internet- and tech-savvy individuals. There are already a lot of teenagers who watch DVDs on their PCs. So we think there will be a big audience watching Joost on PCs.
But the application doesn't need a browser, so you can have a low-end PC that you hook to a TV to watch it on the big screen. There are even some TVs coming out that have hard disks, so you'll be able to plug in Ethernet and watch it that way too. You won't even need a big expensive media center or Windows box to run it.
What about cell phones? Can you watch Joost programming on that?
Volpi: The application itself needs about 500 to 600 kilobits per second. So to the extent you have EVDO or some other 3G network providing enough bandwidth, you could watch it on a mobile device. But you also need the computing horsepower. The application itself consumes some CPU processing. So we won't be offering Joost on mobile devices tomorrow, but it's possible in the future.
Cisco has this new Media Solutions business group that is going out and helping media companies better serve consumers using IP technology. Are there any plans for Joost to work with Cisco on anything? It seems like it could be a good fit.
Volpi: In a broad sense what we're doing is wonderful for Cisco. We use lots of bandwidth for long stretches of time. So I am sure they are happy with what we're doing. But I can't talk about any specifics. Besides, I've only been on the job a day and half. Give me some time.
1 commentJoin the conversation! Add your comment