Thwapr : cloud-based mobile video sharing solution for fans and brands

7th Mar 2011
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Bruce Goldstein (CEO), Barry Hall (CFO) and Maurizio Vecchione (former Chairman/Board) met while working for Barry Diller's USA Networks, (Now IAC). Goldstein from the USA side via Internet Shopping Network (ISN), Hall and Vecchione from Styleclick - merged with ISN. A consultancy was formed by these execs, post-merger, to help companies monetize and manage to success newly launched companies. One of their clients challenged them with a simple question, "Why is it so hard to share photos and videos to mobile devices?" After doing some research, and with seed money, Thwapr was born over 3 years ago. Leigh Newsome is the Senior Vice President, Product at Thwapr - heading up product strategy. Leigh answered a few questions about Thwapr.Tell us more about Thwapr.

Thwapr is a cloud-based mobile video sharing solution for fans and brands. We enable users to receive and share content on their mobile phones with the best possible user experience regardless of device, network, or carrier. Our mobile video solution for brands is a white-label offering enabling brands to distribute mobile videos to their users/customers. You can experience some demos on our corporate website: http://corp.thwapr.com. In addition, we have a consumer service (www.thwapr.com) that allows users to share picture and videos to friends and family. This service also works with our consumer iPhone app which can be downloaded here: http://itunes.com/app/thwapr

How does it work?

Thwapr delivers graphically rich video wrapped with branded content, providing an experience that is unmatched today thanks to the company’s proprietary Dynamic/Hybrid Transcoding Engine and its Adaptive Rendering. When a user requests a video by clicking on our video link, we detect the user’s carrier, location and mobile device and adjust the video delivery to network/bandwidth conditions to ensure the highest quality mobile video viewing experience available. Our mobile videos can be delivered over SMS, Email, QR Codes, or via a “share to phone” button on a website. Videos can be delivered to phones on-demand (a-la-carter) or via video subscriptions. We are compatible with about 320 handsets on the market in the US & Canada – this equates to roughly 200M video capable phones.

What was the idea behind Thwapr?

The idea came about due to the problem mobile phones consumers face: sharing rich content (videos) across phones is nearly impossible. This issue is more prevalent when someone shares a video to a different phone on a different carrier. As a result, we have created both a consumer and B2B product offering which enables cross-carrier/cross-phone video sharing and does not require an app/download for receiving videos. Consumer have been unhappy with the lack of reliability and low quality that MMS provides – thus the need for Thwapr. Brands desire to cast the “widest net” and reach users regardless of which type of phone they have in order to maximize their marketing and distribution efforts.

India plans for Thwapr?

We currently serve the US and Canada markets. We launched our B2B offering (based on pricing tiers) a handful of weeks ago, so we will have numbers to report later this year. In terms of users we have under 100,000 users receiving and/or sharing videos. . Our initial launch focused on the US and Canada markets, we intend to expand beyond the US & Canada w/in the next 3 to 6 months. One of these expansions will be India.

Revenue model - How do you see companies using this technology?

We work many verticals: media & entertainment (film, TV, and music), sports, retail/fashion, corporate, etc. Clients utilize mobile video to reach their audience for different reasons: drive product sales, ticket sales, event promotions, music videos, corporate marketing campaigns, sell advertising sponsorships, etc. I’ve included a few “live examples” from various clients that be experienced on any phone in the US & Canada. Content delivered through Thwapr can be either short or long form, as we support up to 60 minutes of video playback. In addition, Thwapr is not a cost center but is a revenue generator for our clients. We offer our clients the ability to include mobile banner and dynamic mobile video (pre and post roll) advertising opportunities.

·        Film & TV: text “angelina” to 757575 for a video about the Hollywood career of Angelina Jolie

·        Film & TV: text “terminator” to 757575 for a video about blockbuster film “Terminator 2”

·        Sports (NFL): text “miami” to 757575 for a cheerleader video for the Miami Dolphins

·        Sports (NHL): text “coyotes” to 757575 for a pre-roll video ad with a hockey player interview

·        Sports (NFL): text “dolphins” to 757575 for a “Welcome Video” (fund-raiser for cancer research)

·        Music (Lordz): text “lordz” to see a full music video from MTV/Fuse Hip-Hop band Lordz of Brooklyn

·        Corporate (Conductor): text “seo” to see a corporate video about search engine optimization

We work with companies of all sizes by offering a flexible tiered pricing mode. Our tiered pricing model is based on mobile video views. We remove all costs associated with “marketing”, such as SMS delivery, and only focus on these successful video views.

Apart from video content do you want add more functionality/diversify your offerings?

Our core focus is delivering multimedia content to mobile devices regardless of device or carrier. We are continually adding new capabilities w/in that context – enhancing our “social video and photo” capabilities. Our most recent launch is a consumer iPhone app (http://itunes.com/app/thwapr). A promo video can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkZ7UzzDGxc

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