Video Pop - Version 2.0 (Extract)

Extract from an article in Issue 23, March 3, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. A local start-up, born on a rain-swept Guatemalan mountaintop, has wowed MTV with its media managment program As Ido Wiesenberg deftly maneuvers a computer mouse, the immense monitor on one of the conference room walls comes to life, and a music video pops up. In this day and age of YouTube, this might not seem out of the ordinary. But as Wiesenberg manipulates the buttons and widgets on the 'video dashboard,' which has been crafted to look like the control-board of a futuristic spaceship, features that would impress the most savvy web surfer are revealed. Videos that on most websites just sit inside a fixed square on the computer screen can be resized and moved around at will. For the impatient, thumbnail images from a kaleidoscope of videos can be rapidly viewed on a virtual carousel. And, in keeping with the networking spirit of the times, there is no need to watch alone. You can view the videos on a friend's playlist or chat with several on-line friends as you all watch together on your separate computers. "There used to be a saying that content is king. That is in the past," declares Wiesenberg. "There is a lot of content available today. Now content experience is king," explains Wiesenberg, one of the founders of TVinci, an Israeli start-up that aims to enhance that experience by giving users, through its patent-pending video dashboard, innovative web video features. TVinci is a very young company in several ways: It has been in existence for about a year and a half, and the oldest of its three founders, Guy Barkan, is only 35. "Someone's got to give the kids adult supervision," jokes Barkan, Chief Technology Officer, referring to the two CEOs Wiesenberg and Ofer Shayo, who are both 26. By combining a keen understanding of trends in the contemporary youth market with precocious business savvy, and the identification of an emerging niche, TVinci, with only 12 employees, is already poised for overseas expansion. The company completed 2007 in the black, and revenues for 2008 are expected to be in the seven digits. TVinci's major breakthrough came when it landed the contract to supply the media management platform for the website of MTV Israel, showcasing its video dashboard. MTV is credited with pushing the music world into the video age nearly 30 years ago, and was the undisputed fount of all that was hip and young in the 1980s. But as the web slowly became the new platform for media, MTV began to look dated. The venerable music channel recently decided to undergo a facelift by creating new local channels in national markets and by significantly increasing its web profile - in effect, creating MTV, the next generation. Israel was selected as the first country in which the local MTV Internet site would be launched prior to the local MTV television channel. The site, currently available in limited beta form, is slated to be unveiled by the middle of the year. Choosing the relatively untested TVinci for the project instead of a more established company might have been a gamble, but MTV Israel's General Manager Ohad Bolotin says he is convinced the decision has paid off handsomely. TVinci gave the site exactly what it had been seeking, an outstanding user experience. "Not only will this increase our user base," Bolotin tells The Report, "but working with them immensely deepened our understanding of many aspects related to the web, including social networking, video viewing habits and user experience. They are professionals with a thorough comprehension of their subject. Their work was so good that Viacom, which owns the MTV brand worldwide, came to look at what they were producing and was extremely impressed," says Bolotin. TVinci already counts Israeli broadcasters Reshet and Yes, and the website MSN-Israel among its clients, and is building on its success in Israel to negotiate potential deals in Europe and the United States. "We have three types of clients," says Wiesenberg. "Television broadcasters who are now racing to move content on to the web, portals that are seeking to attract more viewers, and mobile telephone operators, as mobile videos become popular." TVinci's small technology staff have for the past year been working in a one-room rented office in central Tel Aviv, crammed with computer gear and cables. True to their generation, they multi-task at a dizzy pace, switching from composing computer code to reading blogs to getting back to code again. Extract from an article in Issue 23, March 3, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here.