Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

A Boost for Joost in Hollywood, Well, Burbank

Joost threw a party in North Hollywood (which is really closer to Burbank than Hollywood) Tuesday at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’s Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre for a small throng of Hollywood folks, most of whom looked to be about 21 years old collectively.

joost

(You can just imagine a big Hollywood muckety-muck telling his lowly recent college grad of an assistant to go to the party, because “we gotta be up on this digital stuff you young people like.”)

It was an interesting party for me for a lot of reasons, some of which had nothing to do with Joost, but mostly because it represents yet another foray into Hollywood for the Internet Story, The Sequel. (Also see the video after the jump.)

In the last go-round, there were all sorts of empty alliances struck between techies and the entertainment industry that went precisely nowhere–or as they say here, into perpetual turnaround.

But with broadband penetration improving significantly and the explosion of video on the Web, the best example being the spectacular growth of YouTube, a new dance has begun.

And because Hollywood is terrified of YouTube, and its owner, Google, alternatively scared, intrigued and indignant over copyright issues, the entrance of Joost, an online video platform for the distribution of professional content on the Web, could be just what the industry is looking for. Joost is counting on that compelling content to sell advertising on the site.

It’s funny, of course, that Hollywood is embracing a company founded by the same duo–Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström–who disrupted the phone industry with its Skype service and created the controversial peer-to-peer file-sharing service Kazaa, used by many to illegally download–yes–copyrighted entertainment content.

But now, of course, if you aren’t YouTube, you are a friend.

volpiAnd Joost did not disappoint. Newly installed and perpetually smooth CEO Mike Volpi, a longtime Cisco executive pictured here, was there to assuage the worries and try to encourage content creators to think of Joost as a partner.

It was well received, too–some there were discussing the benefits of porting existing content from television onto Joost, while several people I talked to were working on all kinds of original new content, such as one person I know working with a group making cutting-edge Web videos about the business and machinations of Hollywood.

Here is another excellent piece about the event by Fortune’s most excellent Adam Lashinsky.

And here’s a video I did from the party, with a bit of touring of television history and a bit of the party and a bit of Volpi in action:

Please see this disclosure related to me and YouTube (owned by Google).


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald