I’ve written a lot on verticals such as e-commerce and food recently. Another vertical getting a lot of attention recently is video sharing. In Singapore, video sharing app Snyppit has just shared that they received a US$521,000 funding round led by Jungle Ventures and participated in by a few angel investors from the US and Israel.
Founded by Alon Sobol who’s previously the Head of Mobile Partnerships, Asia at Facebook and Vice President for Products at Mig33, Snyppit is a simple way to create and share seven seconds video. It works pretty much similar to Vine: Hold Down to Record, Release to Pause, Options to Add Filter, and you can like and comment on other videos.
Why is video sharing important?
So what’s the big deal about video sharing? In this consumption economy, our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and our demand for creative, quality content is on the rise. If you can’t tell me your story in 6 seconds (or 15 seconds), you’ve lost me.
This makes brand and everyone else rethink video creation as a new way to tell stories. Not only does video put context to words and text, putting a face and a voice to a brand or a name, everyone is armed with greater storytelling firepower in the digital form. There are also companies already embracing video content to spread their brands and show the behind-the-scenes action in their office.
The rise of smartphones with good cameras, combined with a surge of interest to document our lives and share those clips with others over better and faster networks, are all contributing to a boom in the market. And we see absolutely no signs of this stopping and slowing down anytime soon.
Red or Blue Ocean?
There is minimal doubt that video will be the next big thing, with heavyweights such as Facebook (through Instragram video), Twitter (through Vine) as well as Google (through YouTube) all fighting for a slice of the huge lucrative pie.
Other than these tech giants whom recently went bullish in the video sharing vertical, there are other several existing players already long in the space. Before Instagram and Vine were released earlier this year, Viddy and SocialCam were the biggest players in the space. Viddy allows users to capture, edit and share 15-second videos. The company claims to have 27 million unique users, and has managed to get celebrity users including Snoop Dogg as well as Mark Zuckerberg, with seed funding from Twitter’s very own co-founder Biz Stone. SocialCam, on the other hand, imposes no limit on its videos, and has over 42 million active users, before it was acquired by Autodesk for US$60 million last year.
Also, does anyone remember Color? The real time video sharing app which had major investors like Sequoia betting in US$41 million into the startup, only to see it spiral downwards within days of going live?
Here in Asia, other than Singapore based Snyppit, Korean based Bb also allows you to create animated videos and share these with your friends.
Do these startups stand a chance against companies such as Vine and Instagram, which have had access to hundreds of millions of users to begin with? Are they tackling a blue ocean in Asia or swimming with the sharks? Will they be able to carve out a nice niche for themselves?
Huge market potential but unsure when it will be translated to financial value
If you look at the videos on Vine, you will quickly realize that some of them are just painful to watch. I think we are still three to five years out from the day when sharing short video clips is as widespread an activity as posting pics. This presents a lot of opportunities for startups to leverage on.
We also know that the fundamentals of mobile growth is strong in Asia. As Thomas Clayton of Bubble motion recently puts it, Asia has the largest mobile subscriber base, by far, in the world. Photo sharing is also huge in Southeast Asia countries, especially in Thailand. “The two most popular places for Instagram users are, perhaps surprisingly, in Thailand,” wrote Huffington Post. Whether or not we will expect the same behaviour for video sharing is still yet to be seen. Most of the current video sharing apps do not have a direct revenue model too.
One thing’s for sure, Asian startups are known for their resiliency. There is lack of access to institutional funds. (Ever hear of the joke: a million guys walk in to a Silicon Valley bar. No one buys anything. The bar is declared a rousing success.) There are also external factors, such as infrastructure and the fact that Asia startups are used to dealing with extremely price-sensitive consumers. Therefore, startups in Asia can be creative with revenue models that are not always readily apparent to startups in the west. Take LINE for example. Just when we thought the chat app battle is over with the dominance of WhatsApp, Japan-based LINE is killing it now and racking in millions of revenue.
If tech giants like Facebook and Twitter want to claim the video sharing space in Asia or Southeast Asia, we can definitely expect startups such as Snyppit and Bb putting up a strong fight.
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