Plenty of people are trying really hard to make online video more like TV. Israel-based web video curation startup Stevie is a little more specific about its goal: It wants online video to look like a hit show on MTV, back when MTV was still groundbreaking. “We are a product of the ’80s,” admitted Stevie CEO Jael Givon when she and co-founder Gil Rimon dropped by our office earlier this month to show off Stevie’s new iPad app.
The app, which just became available in the App Store this weekend, features more or less the same UI and functionality as Stevie’s web application: a continuous stream of short online videos consisting of things your contacts share on Facebook and Twitter as well as popular clips shared by a number of celebrities, divided into small programming units.
Tweets, videos, tickers
There’s a “show” for personalized content, one for funny stuff, one for music videos and one for celebrity clips. And in case you get bored, Stevie also displays Facebook birthdays, the latest tweets and status updates of your contacts, and a whole bunch of other information in a sidebar and two scrolling tickers. Oh, and did I mention the tweet overlays for currently playing videos?
This may sound like one hot mess of a UI nightmare, but it’s not. Stevie actually works really well as a kind of partial attention app: You fire it up during your lunch break, scan some of the newest tweets, and then let it play in the background until something captures your imagination, at which point you can dive deeper into Facebook posts while music videos are still playing in the background.
That’s very different from apps that want to find the best clip for you to enjoy right now, and it’s a distinction that’s not lost on Stevie’s co-founders. “We are not a discovery application,” Givon told me during our meeting. Rimon added that the company also isn’t looking to venture too far into long-form content. Stevie already occasionally displays longer videos, and automatically goes into full-screen mode after a few minutes of uninterrupted watching — but the startup isn’t really looking for relationships with content creators at this point.
Next up: Airplay and Xbox
Instead, it wants to get its current offering on as many different screens as possible. The new iPad app is just a first step, and the startup is looking to launch an improved version with Airplay integration and a robust second-screen experience in the next few weeks. Rimon also told me that Stevie signed an agreement with Microsoft to bring Stevie to the Xbox, with a launch on the game console planned for early next year.
So how will Stevie make money? Rimon told me that sponsored clips could be one option, and the company is also talking to pay TV operators in Europe and Israel about possible collaborations. However, the startup is looking to grow its audience first, and Rimon told me that others would probably be better at building the monetization component anyway. Stevie has raised a total of $600,000 in angel funding and is currently exploring options for a Series A.