We spend more and more time on social networks, but sometimes it can feel like work. I mean, scrolling through your news feed isn’t work work, but it’s not quite as easy as vegging out on your couch and watching TV.
That’s where a new startup called Stevie comes in, with a website launching today at Disrupt, along with mobile apps that function as remote controls. Stevie looks at content shared in your social network feeds and elsewhere on the Web, and it assembles that content into TV shows that you can watch, shows with names like The Comedy Strip, Music Non-Stop, and Celeb TV. Naturally, the shows incorporate video content that your friends have shared, but they also include things like Facebook status updates, tweets, shared headlines, and birthdays, running mostly as tickers under the video. Essentially, it’s a way to watch Facebook and Twitter on your TV.
Co-founder and Chief Creative Technologist Gil Rimon argues that this is the right way to do “social TV.” Apps like GetGlue, which offer check ins and other social interactions around existing TV content, aren’t a good fit for how people watch TV now, because they ignore its essentially passive nature. Stevie takes the opposite tack — instead of trying to encourage new types of behavior, it’s introducing new content into the traditional couch potato experience.
Rimon compares the app to Pandora. In the same way that Pandora learns your musical tastes and preferences, automatically delivering music that’s tailored to your tastes, Stevie uses something that the team calls “The Stevie Factor” to look at your social data (such as Facebook Likes) and automatically stitch together the videos and other content that you’ll probably enjoy.
When Rimon demonstrated Stevie for me, I was particularly impressed by the look and feel. Granted, I don’t watch much TV aside from Game of Thrones and Doctor Who, but the video content struck me as quite bubbly and polished, especially for something that was being algorithmically assembled on-the-fly. Rimon’s experience in TV writing, editing, and presenting probably helps with that. I expect Stevie will become even more appealing when it’s available on connected TV devices.
The company has raised $300,000 in angel funding from investors including Jeff Pulver and Gigi Levy, and it’s participating in the Microsoft Accelerator for Azure program in Tel Aviv. Oh, and if you’re interested in couples who run startups, here’s another one — Rimon is married to his co-founder and CEO Yael Givon.
You can visit the Stevie website here, download the iPhone app here, and download the Android app here. (Again, the apps aren’t standalone experiences, but remote controls for watching on the browser.)Disrupt Q&A
Q: How do you connect the Internet to the TC?
A: We’re not delivering hardware — it’s a web-based experience, with more devices (starting with iPad) coming soon.
Q: Who is your competition?
A: No direct competition, though of course there are other video discovery companies. But they’re not replicating the TV experience. The real competitor might be old-fashioned TV channels.
Q: Why hasn’t connected TV taken off?
A: That’s changing — see, for example, the growth of Apple TV.