Venture Capital’s New Recruits: Volpi and Andreessen Join the VC Ranks

The printers are probably still warm from running off copies of last week’s announcement he was stepping down as the CEO of Joost, but former Cisco star Mike Volpi is wasting no time updating his resume.  Not a week removed and he’s already on to his next venture, literally.

Index Ventures (which is an investor in Joost) announced Monday that Mike will join their London office as a venture partner. 

While a new entrant to the VC world, Volpi is anything but inexperienced when it comes to evaluating companies.  The former Cisco Chief Strategy Officer oversaw a business development team that acquired more than 75 companies during his thirteen year stint at the networking equipment maker.

At Index, Volpi will focus on familiar territory: Telecom and Networking startups.  He’ll also try his hand at picking future stars from the Media and Internet sectors.

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Joost Revises Its Business Model

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.  But if “Plan B” doesn’t work either? Then what? Do you call it a cautionary tale? Chalk it up to the nature of the game? Or do you try a new course yet again?  For the once high flying internet video startup, Joost, which has been spiraling toward trouble, it’s door number three.

On Tuesday, the company announced in a corporate blog that it will restructure its business model to incorporate a white-label service aimed at providing video distribution technology. (The video site will remain but no longer be the company’s singular focus).

Joost cited the economy as a key factor in its decision.  On the company blog, CEO Mike Volpi wrote that it had become “increasingly challenging to operate as an independent, ad-supported online video platform…. We have built a solid technology platform that there is demand for in the marketplace, and look forward to this new chapter for our company. At the same time, we’ll continue to operate and its associated video applications.”

While the challenges of earning a living off advertising had to figure into the calculus to shift focus, Joost’s problems run deeper and have been apparent for a long time. Simply put: the company’s service never matched up to the demands and behaviors of the consumer marketplace.  Timing, programming, and concept never fully came together.

Cycle back the calendar to May 2007 and Joost was a hot, hyped peer to peer video platform still in an invitation only beta.  The founders were coming off of huge success in the creation and sale of Skype. Click to Read More

Hulu Offers Application Alternative

hulu labsGo back a few years ago and companies pushing net video streams out to proprietary applications were all the rage.  IP TV had the hype of a key convergence technology.  It was the next new thing. With companies like Joost there was massive venture funding, and talk about how their plans would change the face of TV distribution.

That didn’t happen. The buzz faded, staff left  and many of the companies that were yesterday’s darlings have faded from tech culture stardom (at least for now) like the backup singer to a one hit wonder.  Two notes hummed and forgotten.

The problem may have been timing, or programming, but it was also in no small part because the offerings required a change in consumer behavior.  They required applications downloaded to a desktop when consumers were used to (and comfortable) working within their web browser. 

It’s ironic given that, that today’s web video stars, companies like Hulu that have gained audience traction with browser-based video distribution are exploring stand alone players. Click to Read More

Project Kangaroo Runs Into Antitrust Issues

project kangaroo stopIn the U.S. NBC Universal and News Corp’s joint video on demand service, Hulu, has proven to be a big success, drawing both audience (Quantcast data) and advertisers.  In the U.K., BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4 had hoped to follow a similar path with their own web service, Project Kangaroo (also known as UKVOD).  Their route now looks complicated, if not potentially impassable.

Wednesday, after a prolonged review, the U.K antitrust authority, the Competition Commission (“CC”) issued a provisional finding that the joint venture would unfairly restrict competition. Specifically, the CC believes, as currently defined, Project Kangaroo will lessen essential competition in the supply of UK TV Video on Demand programming.

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Jerry Yang to Step Down as Yahoo CEO

yhoo help smallJerry Yang took the helm of Yahoo a year and half ago with a plan to restore the then struggling company he co-founded to its former glory.  Amidst mounting pressure from major shareholders, he’ll step down with the task far from complete.

Yahoo announced Monday evening that executive search firm Heidrick and Struggles has been retained to help them find a new CEO.  Jerry Yang will stay in the roll until a replacement is found.  He’ll then revert to his role as “Chief Yahoo.”

koogle era semel era yang eraRunning Yahoo has never been an easy task.  As demonstrated in historical stock charts depicting the stewardship of each of Yahoo’s CEO’s (shown here split adjusted), despite the company’s amazing audience growth, there’s been a consistent ebb and flow to the valuation of the company since its public debut. All of the executives saw value erode in the later periods of their tenure.

Jerry Yang’s short term was particularly tempestuous.  From February 2008 until May, he went to head to head with Steve Ballmer and Microsoft. Through the spring and summer, he faced off with shareholder Carl Icahn over board seats and corporate strategy.    Into the fall, he’s faced defecting staff and an economic environment not before seen in the lifespan of the company.

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Joost in the Browser: Relevant or Redundant

joost beta 2On September 5th reports circulated the IPTV startup Joost was preparing to abandon their application-based delivery mechanism in favor a new, more accessible browser based solution.  The new launch was promised shortly.  Today, it arrived.

At the Joost website, the company began serving a browser based solution to stream its collected library of licensed video content.  The launch was characterized as “soft” meaning the company is not promoting it and is using it as a live beta test to work out bugs.

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IPTV Redux: Joost to Reinvent in the Browser?

JOOST RESTARTIf at first you don’t succeed, reinvent and try again.   That’s a mantra known at many an Internet startup.  And according to a new report, it looks like it applies to IPTV startup, Joost.

A couple of years ago, peer to peer IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) was all the rage.  There were content partnerships and huge eight figure financing’s.  High profile execs and even talent agents were hired.  “It’s the next new thing.”  “The TV of the Future” the headlines seemed to read.  Unfortunately there were cracks in an otherwise pretty facade and they’re now starting to show.  

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