YouTube Cofounder Steve Chen Explains What He's Doing With His New Company

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Photo: BusinessWeek

About a year ago, YouTube cofounders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley bought bookmarking service Delicious from Yahoo, and used it as the basis to form a new company called Avos Systems.We haven’t heard much from them since. Until today, when Avos announced its first round of outside funding. (PDF here.)

The company isn’t saying how much it raised, but it got a group of pretty big names on board, including Google Ventures, NEA, and Madrone Partners, and Kai-Fu Lee, who previously set up Chinese research offices for both Google and Microsoft. (Lee’s incubator, Innovation Works, was an investor.)

We talked to Chen today, and he explained a little more about what the company wants to do.

Basically, it’s all about helping users make sense of the flood of new content coming on to the Web every day.

“Having worked with YouTube, there were already about 40 hours of video being uploaded every minute. That’s doubled. There are now 60 to 80 hours of new video content being uploaded every minute — on one web site. There’s new content on Twitter, it comes from RSS feeds, from blogs, from Facebook, from social networks…. There are lots of new products and new services making adding content easier. But there’s not many people on the other side, helping users digest that content.”

Delicious and a Chinese-language equivalent,, are parts of the equation. Those products are still about “people manually adding bookmarks and sharing sites in their social network. We want to try to make that process easier, more fun.”

But Avos is also building a mysterious product called Zeen.  It sounds like a personalised collection of content arranged in a magazine-type format.

There are lots of other services doing similar things, from Flipboard and Zite on the display side, to Wavii and, which focus on different ways of making sense of all the new content showing up online.

Chen said that Zeen would be similar to Flipboard “on the UI level” but different on the publishing side —  “We want to make sure you don’t have to call our head of business relationships to strike a relationship before you publish something. Every user has something to say.”

Sounds cryptic, but we’ll hear more in the coming months, Chen told us.

The company currently has about 30 developers spread between San Mateo in Silicon Valley, Dunedin in New Zealand, and Beijing. The new round will be used to hire more talent, as well as to leverage connections from Google Ventures and NEA.

San Francisco 49ers president — and former CFO of Facebook and YouTube — Gideon Yu has also joined the board

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