Almost Famous: Aviary's Israel Derdik

A new feature wherein All Things Digital looks at up-and-coming and innovative start-ups you should know about.

This week: A Skype visit with, some questions for and a few pertinent stats about Israel Derdik and his high-flying media suite, Aviary, a Web-based media-editing platform that enables users to alter, save and present their multimedia creations, all in the cloud.


Who: Israel Derdik, or “Iz” to his friends.

What: CTO of Aviary.

Why: Aviary is a Web-based media-manipulation suite comprised of flash-based tools for in-browser image editing, pattern generation, image effects, image markup, screen capture and audio editing. Let’s call it Adobe (ADBE) Lite.

Where: @iz (Twitter); (corporate bio); Hewlett, New York (analog place).

Who else: Sumopaint, Pixler, Garage Band.

Five Stats You Won’t Find in His Facebook Profile

Worst Job: Tech Support Intern, Prudential Securities.

Has a Geek Crush on: Gina Trapani,

Gadget of the Moment: Chartbeat app for iPhone.

Wishes There Was an App for: Home automation. “I want to have little touchscreens in every room of the house to control lights, HVAC, alarms, all of it. Basically, I want the touchscreens.”

First Computer: Commodore VIC 20. “My dad brought home a VIC 20 when I was six or seven. We played these little games on it–it had a tape drive. I’ve been hooked ever since.”

Bio in 140 Characters

Born in Brooklyn. CS degree from Brooklyn College. Became an intern at ConEd. Bubble of Web 1.0 burst. Then co-founded Aviary.

The Five Questions

What makes Aviary different from Adobe CS or Garage Band?

Aviary can do lots of things, but there’s nothing to install. It’s flash-based and runs right in your browser. The benefit of running that stuff in the cloud is every time you save it, it saves to our servers, and you can access it from any computer.


We also make it easy to do the basic edits on Aviary. Then, for example, [you could] move the project to Photoshop for more heavy-duty stuff. You can also open other peoples’ works–if they haven’t made them private with a premium account–and see how they did something. We call it “creation on the fly.”

Are users ready for this?

Absolutely. We’re seeing it [cloud computing] more with Gmail; people are moving more of their applications to the Web. I think online image editing is still in its nascent stages, but it’s going to get there. [Aviary is] definitely building for the power user, the top of the pyramid, but it will trickle down.

You just completed a successful round of funding. How will Aviary expand?

Well, we’d love to get into bed with Flickr [Yahoo’s (YHOO) popular image-sharing site]. We can already pull images right from your Flickr account, and very shortly we’ll be able to push images back via their API. Currently, there’s a big hole for video editing and stuff for YouTube.


That’s a really, really tough problem to solve because of the file sizes involved. There is also music creation possibly, as opposed to just looping things together and adding effects.

Every geek has a memory where they saw something new and had to say to themselves, “Dang, I love living in the future.” What’s yours?

I’ll tell you exactly what it is because it really stands out. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Wannado City in Florida. It’s a kids’ amusement park that’s entirely indoors. It looks like a huge city, and the kids can do all the jobs–they can be police officers, and there’s fire trucks going back an forth that the kids can sit in, and there’s a bakery–it’s a really cool place. But what struck me as cool is that they give this bracelet to each person in the family when you walk in, and at any given moment you can walk to a kiosk, swipe your bracelet and see where anyone else in your family is in the building. I assume they are using some kind of RFID tags, but when I saw that I was like, “Wow, that’s really awesome.”

If you could change one thing about the Internet, what would it be?

The worst would have to be bad advice in tech support forums. Sometimes, I go on there, and there is just really bad advice. I look at it and think, “I could do that better.” Incompetence drives me crazy.

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