This interview originally appeared in Cynopsis Digital 02/18/14
FIVE MINUTES WITH…
We caught up with last week with Greg Isenberg, the 25 year old CEO and Founder of “video concierge” app 5by. Purchased by content discovery service StumbleUpon last September, 5by launched its Android and iOS App on January 23, was featured on Apple‘s app home page, and has counted 185,000 downloads in the last 14 days. In about two weeks, 5by will be integrating with Chromecast. Not a bad start for the app, which asks users questions about their interests, moods, how much time they have to watch some video, and then serves up a curated stream. For Isenberg, a Canadian who still has three computer science classes to take before he gets his degree from Montreal‘s McGill University, being acquired by StumbleUpon and growing his business has been a great ride, so far.
Q: How do you compare yourself to YouTube?
A: YouTube is good at fetch and retrieve. The difference between video and other media is that video is a time commitment. If you’re watching something bad, you think, I just lost five minutes of my life. We were sick of going to YouTube and seeing videos not geared toward us.
Q: How did you come with the app’s questions, which include choices like, “I’d like to be on a beach in Cancun,” or “I want to spend my vacation shredding the Rockies”?
A: Typical questions are boring and feel like work. The whole DNA of the company is to take the work out of finding videos.
Q: 5by is geared toward 18-25 year olds, Gen Y’ers who want on-demand, shareable content. What’s the most popular category so far?
A: Funny – which makes sense, because people want to laugh. I like to numb out my brain before I go to sleep, so I want to watch funny videos.
Q: Tell us about your business proposition.
A: Monetization’s not the focus right now. We want eyeballs and to make the product better. We want to curate for more categories, so there are options for everyone, including my 6-year-old nephew.
Q: Eventually you will need to have advertising. Will you insert video ads and branded video into the stream?
A: We will never interrupt it, but we might add value-added content in a stream of videos.
Q: What about creating original content?
A: We know what goes viral and we can make things go viral. So it makes sense to own content. It’s not an immediate priority, but we’re talking to viable partners for it.
Q: How’d you come up with the name 5by?
A: 5 by 5 is an old military radio term. You’d say, “You’re coming in 5 by 5.” That means it’s the highest signal strength, loud and clear. That’s like us: trying to strengthen the signal.