Alain Rossmann's Klip, a Twitter for Videos
As Tiger Woods teed off at the Australian Open on Nov. 9, a spectator calling himself JayWalkar used Klip, a new iPhone app, to film the powerful drive down the fairway. Less than a minute later, Alain Rossmann, Klip’s 55-year-old founder, was watching the video on his own iPhone in Palo Alto, Calif., and marveling at how small the planet had become. “We’re moving to a world where everything is captured and everything is shared in real time,” Rossmann says. “Our entire history will be chronicled in a mosaic of video.”
Rossmann created his latest company to assemble that video mosaic and allow people to choose the pieces they want to see. Introduced in the Apple App Store in September, Klip is a little like a Twitter for videos of one minute or less, without all the text. Members specify topics they are interested in and users they want to follow and launch a constant stream of video, as well as additional recommendations they might enjoy. Recent clips showcase elephants in Saudi Arabia and an abandoned tube stop in London.
Rossmann has one of the longer and more storied résumés in Silicon Valley. In the mid-1980s he was a member of the legendary team at Apple that built the original Macintosh. A decade later, he founded Phone.com, which created an early Web browser for the mobile phone. Rossmann also started the Web movie store VUDU, which was acquired by in 2010. And though his wife, Joanna Hoffman, Apple employee No. 5, preferred that he stay retired, earlier this year he founded Klip after realizing it won’t be long before people toting around smart phones upload a billion videos a month.
Now nearly 20 employees, including several from Apple and YouTube, toil in a small office in downtown Palo Alto, and the company has raised $10 million in venture capital from Benchmark Capital and Matrix Partners. In its first three months, Klip has regularly topped the App Store’s list of most-downloaded video-sharing offerings. The big daddy in the online video world, of course, is Google’s YouTube, but Rossmann believes that site is moving in the opposite direction, accumulating professionally produced content from Hollywood, not shaky-cam material uploaded from mobile phones. Although Klip is not focused on making money yet, Rossmann believes there will be plenty of opportunities for advertising.
Rossmann says this is the best time ever for starting an Internet company. He stores and processes all the company’s videos on Amazon.com’s for-hire Web servers. To keep pornography off the service, he runs algorithms to determine which videos may be suspect and then has actual people screen them, using the freelance workforce available through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk labor marketplace. “You can achieve 10 times more now with 10 times fewer people and 10 times less capital. It’s unbelievable. This is the golden age of startups, and I hope America and everyone else takes advantage of it.”