Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Video Sharing + Body Slams = Tout

Sure, there are a ton of video-sharing sites and apps. But only one of them is getting an endorsement from the world’s biggest pro wrestling company.

That would be Tout, which is announcing a linkup with the WWE today: The people who bring you the The Rock and The Big Show will be promoting the clip-sharing service on programming like “Monday Night Raw.”

Even more interesting is that they’re putting money into the company, as part of a $13.4 million B round, alongside investors like Gordon Crawford and Allen & Co.’s Stan Shuman. Earlier funders like Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures and Seavest Ventures also re-upped.

Tout is a spinoff of Stanford Research Institute, which also helps distinguish it from the likes of Viddy, SocialCam and Keek. But the most important distinction is that while Tout can be used as a standalone service, the company is trying to position itself as a sort-of white-label provider (it prefers the term “platform”) for big media companies like the WWE, ESPN and CNBC.

The jury is still out on whether video sharing is really the new photo sharing. SocialCam and Viddy have certainly proven that if Facebook promotes a video-sharing app, it will take off. Getting users to come back to the apps is another matter.

Tout CEO Michael Downing says the company has brought six million users to its app and Web site in the last month, which indicates some kind of ramp, because it’s had a total of 23 million in its first year of operation.

The WWE meanwhile, is pushing Tout as one of several social services it’s encouraging its fans to use. Among the others: Twitter, Shazam, Google+ and Instagram.

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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