Startup Veteran Takes On Mobile Video with KlipSeptember 20, 2011
Wall Street Journal
by Don Clark
Name a big technology shift in Silicon Valley and Alain Rossmann was there, from the birth of the Macintosh to pen computing, the mobile Internet and online video distribution. Now the French entrepreneur is eyeing all those short videos people are shooting on their iPhones.
Rossmann on Tuesday unveiled Klip, a new startup that hopes to create a new online community for people who create and share those video clips–or klips, as the company would have people spell it.
Some people might suggest Facebook, YouTube and other existing services already have plenty of mobile video content. But Rossmann thinks there’s room for an online repository that makes it even easier for people to upload and share their videos, and uses a variety of techniques to classify clips and help people to find specific kinds of content.
“There is a real opportunity to help people organize this world,” Rossmann says.
The closely held company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is offering a free app through Apple’s online store that helps users view and sort through videos in a variety of ways. For example, they can swipe fingers across videos to quickly fast-forward the action and get a quick preview. Users can also categorize and find videos through the hash-tag system popularized by Twitter, and quickly post them on that service, Facebook or YouTube.
Rossmann was most recently in the news for helping to revamp and sell Vudu, the online video startup, to Wal-Mart in 2010. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but he describes the purchase as a “nine-figure deal.”
He is better known for helping to shape earlier waves in technology, a career that put his name on 37 patents. After a stint working for Steve Jobs at Apple–when the Mac development team was just 22 people, Rossmann recalls–he wound up working with pioneering startups that include Radius (Mac accessory hardware), C-Cube Microsystems (video compression), EO (pen computing) and Unwired Planet (a company that through mergers and name changes became Phone.com and later Openwave).
At the latter, Rossmann helped develop the wireless access protocol, or WAP, which created the mobile browser that first allowed cellphones to tap into the Internet–a technology widely regarded as clumsy compared with the apps on today’s smartphones. But Rossmann notes there are still hundreds of millions of phones with WAP browsers.
Klip has just 20 people, and they’ve only been working on the project since April. But there’s lots of experience on the team, which includes veterans of Apple, Google and YouTube, Rossmann says. That skill level–aided by advances such as the wide reach of Apple’s app store–can allow startups to go much further faster than ever before, he says.
“You can achieve ten times more with ten times less funding,” Rossmann says. “You have global markets you can reach with the flick of the mouse.”