The creators of Kazaa and Skype will announce the launch of their latest venture, aimed at distributing television and video over the internet, at a conference on the future of television in New York in November. Codenamed ‘The Venice Project,’ it is claimed to combine the best things about television with the social power of the internet.
Fredrik de Wahl, the chief executive of The Venice Project, is among the keynote speakers at the Future of Television Forum in New York. He will give the first exclusive presentation of the project at the conference.
The Venice Project has been developed in stealth mode and is currently in a limited beta test. The team says it will redefine the way people think about television, but states that it is not a file-sharing application or a video download service.
The main backers of the project are Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, who were both responsible for the Kazaa file-sharing system and the Skype peer-to-peer phone network.
Janus Friis has said that they are creating a streaming peer-to-peer platform for television. It is understood to be a video streaming layer built on top of the global index technology that provides the foundation for Skype.
The Venice Project is apparently codenamed after an independent film of that name set in Venice, Italy and Venice, California.
It appears, however, that the company behind The Venice Project is currently incorporated as ‘Baaima NV,’ a Netherlands Antilles limited company with a post office box at Curacao in the Caribbean, it has been suggested for legal reasons.
The published terms of service suggest that it will involve users uploading and tagging content. The platform will provide a targeted advertising-supported system, sharing revenue with programming providers.
Google recently invested $1.6 billion of its stock to acquire the video sharing site YouTube, with the presumed intention of establishing a similar business model. The difference with The Venice Project seems to be that it will be built on a peer-to-peer platform, which offers the potential for scalable low-cost distribution.
The online auction business eBay previously acquired the interenet telephony phenomenon Skype for $1.3 billion in cash and an equivalent in stock. It seems that Ebay is happy for the serial entrepreneurs to be involved in The Venice Project and perhaps they may find a way to harness their auction engines and PayPal payment mechanisms to exploit it. If so, it could be even bigger than YouTube.
The Future of Television Forum takes place at the NYU Stern School of Business in New York on 16-17 November 2006.