Napster founders launch video chat start-up Airtime

Napster founders Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning have launched a new video chat start-up called Airtime, but Australian-founded live video network Kondoot says it isn’t worried by the new market entrant.

 

Airtime is a browser-based video chat service, allowing users to talk with their friends and other people who share their interests. It uses Facebook Connect to ensure people’s real identities.

 

In addition to raising $33 million from a host of Silicon Valley venture capital firms, Airtime has already made its first acquisition – Erly – which allows users to build and share web pages.

 

At Airtime’s debut in New York earlier this week, Parker explained how he and Fanning met, and why they’re launching Airtime.

 

“We were both hackers – this was the mid 1990s – and we were both cyber criminals,” he said.

 

“We met in a chat room about security. We were the only two people in that world with an interest in something more than online vandalism. We wanted to start a company.”

 

Parker said he and Fanning are building a network service that is “very different from a consumer software product”.

 

“It’s not something you can hold in your hand – the value is all in the connections between users,” he said.

 

“We don’t want to reinvent the social graph. We don’t want an application to download – that’s an archaic model.”

 

“We want to bring serendipity back to the internet. Everyone is a participant, and this is an environment for live performance.”

 

Mark Cracknell, co-founder of Brisbane-based live video network Kondoot, says he has been paying attention to Airtime over the past few months.

 

“From the time I’ve spent with Airtime already, it looks to be a good product and I see it as the next evolution of [chat website] ChatRoulette,” Cracknell says.

 

“Tighter integration with Facebook and clearer profiles is aimed to reduce the chances of ChatRoulette’s famous risqué content.”

 

“As for affecting Kondoot; well, we don’t see them as a competitor.”

 

“Their product is focused around giving users the ability to video chat and interact with each other, even if they’re not previously friends.”

 

“Kondoot is more focused around larger scale video, with users connecting with not one but thousands of fans and friends around the world, while still having the ability to video call and chat on a one-to-one basis.”

 

According to Cracknell, live video is heating up for a variety of reasons.

 

“Essentially, everything is coming together, ranging from the average home user having an internet connection fast enough to stream and broadcast live, to new server technologies that make systems like Kondoot cheaper and faster to run,” he says.

 

“Live video is really the next stage for the internet, and the next 12 months will be very interesting.”

 

Earlier today, Kondoot announced the launch of a new, user-friendly website. It also flagged the launch of a smartphone app, which, according to Cracknell, is due for release “soon”.

 

“It’s an exciting time for Kondoot at the moment. Not only have we just launched our brand new website, we are also working really hard on getting our new smartphone app ready,” he says.

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