Sunday, April 06, 2008

Times Online: Joost is struggling

"JOOST, the online television service launched with a fanfare last year by the founders of internet telephony firm Skype, is preparing for a major retrenchment after failing to attract enough users and top-flight broadcasting rights.
The company is expected to rein in its global ambitions to focus solely on the US market.
Set up as an antidote to YouTube by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis after they sold Skype to online auctioneer Ebay, Joost has been overshadowed by the success of the BBC’s iPlayer, and in America, Hulu, a collaboration between NBC and News Corporation, the ultimate owner of The Sunday Times.
It has struggled to convince media and sports companies to sell it global rights, which are normally parcelled out to broadcasters country by country.
Joost has also suffered from senior defections. Chief technology officer Dirk-Willem van Gulik jumped ship for the BBC earlier in the year.
The company raised £23m last May from backers including CBS, Viacom, Index Ventures and Sequoia Capital.
A spokeswoman insisted most of the cash was still in the bank.
“We are not shedding staff,” she said. “There are some situations where staff have been rea-ligned to better fit our needs.”
Zennstrom told The Sunday Times a year ago: “We want to change the way people watch television . . . liberating people from the programme guide.”
Joost is unlikely to close, however. “There are too many egos involved,” said one former employee."

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