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Monday, August 20, 2012 - Page updated at 04:00 p.m.
Viddy aims to build a fan base as the Twitter for videos
By Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — During a recent appearance on the "Today" show, Justin Bieber was helping co-host Matt Lauer get up to date on the latest technology.
"All you need to get is a Viddy account," the teen pop sensation said.
"Viddy. It's like a new app. It's dope."
Bieber is not the only one singing its praises. Called the Twitter for videos, Viddy has quickly amassed 38 million users since its launch 16 months ago. Users shoot short video snippets, known as "viddys," and upload them from their iPhones and other mobile devices for their followers to watch.
Like tweets, viddys capture everyday moments, with one caveat: They have to be 15 seconds or shorter.
"Viddyographers" say Viddy has joined Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram as part of their regular social-media rotation. "We have the ingredients to create what can become the next Twitter, the next YouTube, the next Facebook, and that's what we're setting out to do," co-founder and Chief Executive Brett O'Brien said. "Our ambition is very large."
Investors include venture-capital firms and such high-profile names as Bieber, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Shakira and Jay-Z's Roc Nation. "I'm into Viddy because I can just be me and show my fans the fun parts of my day," Bieber said in an email. "I'm big on talking with fans on Twitter and posting pictures on Facebook, but video is another level, and I like watching viddys my fans make for me."
The popularity of smartphones means millions of people are essentially walking around with mini camcorders in their pockets, said Brian O'Malley, a partner at venture-capital firm Battery Ventures, which has invested about $6 million in Viddy.
Businesses are joining too. General Electric, Southwest Airlines and fashion house Diane von Furstenberg are using the app to promote their brands for far less than what it would cost to shoot a professional commercial. The casual approach also makes huge corporations seem more relatable, company officials said.
Viddy was founded by serial entrepreneur O'Brien, who previously started an online storage-services company that was sold to AOL; JJ Aguhob, the former head of digital strategy and creative at Live Nation Entertainment; and Chris Ovitz, who used to lead business development at Ad.ly.
Viddy, which has 20 employees, recently completed a $30 million round of funding, bringing the total amount invested in the company to $38 million. For now, the company doesn't put ads on its site, with company officials saying they're focusing on growing their user base before determining how best to incorporate advertising.
Copyright © The Seattle Times Company
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