A few days ago, Dmitry Shapiro came to my office and explained to me with a straight face how he plans to "reinvent television." Shapiro is the CEO of a San Diego Internet video startup called Veoh Networks. Since last fall, Veoh has only attracted about 30,000 users to its peer-to-peer video sharing software, who have swapped a total of 250,000 files between them.
Not exactly earth-shaking. But that was just a test run. By tomorrow, Veoh plans to launch a Web version of its service (in fact, it was briefly up earlier today) to compete with the likes of YouTube, iFilm, and vSocial. Whether or not Shapiro ever catches up to this already-crowded pack, he does have a few ideas that may very well point to how we will all one day be watching TV—and not just over the Internet.
Shapiro is betting that Veoh can become a serious distribution platform for Internet video. While YouTube and other video sites may serve up millions of free short video clips a day, often the videos are still jerky or low-quality, even over broadband connections. Shapiro does a few things differently. For one, he has a way to deliver DVD-quality, and even high-definition, videos to your laptop (that's where the peer-to-peer technology comes into play). For another, his business model allows the people who create the videos in the first place to either charge for downloads or share in advertising revenue. And finally, using advanced vector math he plans to use a sophisticated recommendation engine that will program shows and advertising to you.