Streamliner: Making Online Video Accessible

John Davi left Cisco’s Media Solutions group and convinced some of his colleagues to join him, too, to build a product tailored to content producers. Davi believes there’s simply just too much content online. That phrase got my attention. Essentially, their product, Streamliner, seeks to enable content producers (or even consumers) the ability to add what he refers to as an “importance layer” over content online. This reminded me of one of Quora’s most valuable features, the ability to see a social layer of judgement on top of facts. So, being a Quora nut, I got more interested.

Like Quora, in order for Streamliner to succeed, it will require human work and a topic architecture that allows users to tag pieces of content and then cluster it on the backend. However, whereas Quora started with their most fervent users doing the lion’s share of the work (such as editing, tagging, etc.), Streamliner provides a clear-cut incentive for online content producers, mostly in video, to annotate their videos and add a layer on top. This is different than what SpeakerText is doing (disclosure, SpeakerText CEO @mattmireles is a friend); his company uses turk to crowdsource transcripts of videos.

Streamliner doesn’t provide transcripts, but rather the ability for one or more people to add their own context layer over the video, such that it becomes easier to navigate, search, and bookmark. For instance, if you work on the opposition research team for President Obama, you may want to have a catalog of every speech made by candidates in the other party and have them organized by topic. Or, if you like The Daily Show (like me), you may want to subscribe to a weekly digest of his show to determine which segments you’d like to watch in their entirety. There’s also promise for technology (I believe they “streamlined” most of the TechCrunch SF Disrupt videos), as well as how-to, education, and other niche verticals.

A little bit about the team. I’ve met John, he’s a good person. For the last four years, before he left Cisco, he ran engineering and product for Cisco’s Eos platform, looking at commoditization of content, data aggregation, and advertising. With Streamliner, he’s looking at the consumer side. Before this, he ran product and engineering at ClickTV, which was acquired by Cisco; before that, he ran product for FindLaw, which was acquired by Thomson/West. The Streamliner team is rounded out with former colleagues who work on Java, front-end, and a host of other engineering considerations. Davi will lead the overall marketing and distribution efforts.

I believe Davi can find, isolate, and attack video content verticals that have a strategic interest in making their videos more searchable and therefore more accessible. More and more video is going to come to mobile, too. It’s just a matter of time, but we can’t all sit around to watch entire videos. We may just want to eat bits of the reel. We will also need to search video with more accuracy. And, it’s unclear if machines or humans are better at the annotations. Given that uncertainty, as well as the way trends around crowdsourcing, the atomization of content, and the growth of online video, Streamliner is one to keep an eye on.