Latest Shelby.TV News
Jun 8, 2014
Television Networks have always had their base of operations in NYC. Sure, they had big sound stages out in Los Angeles, so the studio portion was out west, but but the beating heat of the networks was always in New York. So it comes as no surprise that the OTT Network space is heating up in NY. The granddaddy of the space, Boxee has been leading the charge to turn TV upside down since it’s founder Avern Ronan launched the company back in 2007. When Boxee launched Ronan wanted to create software that aggregated content stored locally on the computer along with video pulled from the Web. It established a cult following of OTT hackers who wanted to turn TV upside down. It was marketed as the first ever “Social Media Center” Back in 2010, I sat at the Austin Convention Center and witnessed what has since become a famous debate between Ronan and internet entrepreneur Mark Cuban. Cuban, who ironically made his first fortune selling Broadcast.com to Yahoo in 1999 for 5.7 billion dollars, is no fan of paid content on the web. “If you think that the Internet going to replace cable you’re crazy,” Cuban said. He was quick to point out from the SXSW Stage that back then no one in the Internet video space was making money, including Boxee. Cuban said free was the long term play. But the always feisty Ronan fired back “People are willing to pay for Internet video right now.” “They are paying for Netflix, they are paying for MLB, they are paying for a lot of things,” he said. “It isn’t about free or not free. It is about whether the Internet can deliver video and it can.” And while Boxee had a huge fan base, after two pivots – the team to a 30m buy out and moved inhouse at Samsung, an exit that certainly had some of the early OTT fans wondering what would happy to the Boxee vision inside the massive South Korean multinational conglomerate. Just to put things in perspective, Samsung’s revenue was equal to 17% of South Korea’s $1,082 billion GDP. Meanwhile, another early team – Shelby TV – had been taking on the web video space from a different angle. While Boxee went after TV, Shelby focued on smart apps that could provide web video to you in consumable collection. Shelby got great press at launch back in 2011, when it graduated from the Techstars incubator. Back then, CEO Reece Pacheco presented at the NY Video Meetup, and you could feel the excitement in the room. Shelby.tv launched as a social site that was designed to bring together all the videos that your close friends have been liking and sharing, and uses that information in order to suggest videos that you might like to check out. You could log in with Facebook or Twitter account – and your social network informed your video choices. In 2012, Shelby’s CEO Reece Pacheco relaunched the product as an API and a “Genius” App, and fans once again were wowed. But the TV space is nascent, and revenues are unclear for pure discovery. Shelby.tv had raised about $3.9 million, from Avalon Ventures and angels including DFJ’s Tim Draper, Buddy Media’s Mike Lazerow, Simulmedia’s Dave Morgan, and others. So with limited investment capital to keep the lights on, and the road to web video profitability still a ways out – they also looked for a soft landing and a safe home. So, where is Shelby.TV now? Their sitting side by side with the Boxee team at Samsung. It’s not hard to imagine Avener and Reese and their shared vision of socially enabled video discovery as a magical partnership. How their software, vision, and technology fits into Samsung’s plans to engage OTT and the emergence of the Smart TV space will need to be seen. Does the future of OTT belong hard wired into a device, or is it more likely to be a software solution that connects seamlessly to any connected device? That’s just one of the many exciting questions that the emerging TV 2.0 space needs to sort out – to bring the abundance of web video content to consumers. Hmm… interesting. Don’t you think?