Whatever You Do, Don’t Start A ‘Video Discovery’ Startup

YouTube's Hunter Walk

With the vast number of videos uploaded and shared on YouTube, many entrepreneurs have sought out solutions to help people find and manage relevant content.

But Hunter Walk, the former YouTube head of product, says video discovery products are typically flawed, and are not scalable businesses.

In fact, Walk predicts that Waywire, Cory Booker’s startup that recently pivoted to a “Pinterest for video,” will struggle. 

That’s because generally speaking, startups like Waywire aren’t building products that form new habits.

Here’s why some of them don’t fare well, according to Walk:

  • “Verticalized content needs context not just collections.” Startups that try to create a video site for cooking enthusiasts, for example, isn’t enough, Walk writes. People want a full-on community with editorial content, videos, and comments. 
  • Sites or apps with horizontal content need to make it easy to search, curate, and browse. All three are equally important.
  • “Social video is not a standalone product, just a signal.” Some startups pull all the videos from your social feed into one product, but strip out the context and conservation around the video. Walk says, “These failed as standalone products because (a) social graph != interest graph and (b) removing the context and conversation took social videos and made them non-social. Fail.”
  • Monetization is rough when you’re merely embedding someone else’s video. It’s not like you can put another ad in a video hosted on YouTube or Vimeo.

Head on over to Walk’s blog to read comments from Chill founder Brian Norgard, and other entrepreneurs in the video discovery space.