I was the 3rd employee and a founding member of the team. I imagined and designed the product. I built and managed the design team. I wrote front-end code. I participated in pitching and securing the deals we used to grow the company.
Making video editing easy and fun
Video editing- even figuring out what to do with video files- was, and still is a complicated process for many people. We recognized the need for a free, easy, and fun way to combine videos and share them. We built an in-browser application for customers to upload short videos and create multi-clip edits. We called these mixes, and we called our product the Mixer. That was a deliberate decision. Our editor was about combining videos with music.
It's about the music
Our approach focused heavily on music. We observed videographers tendency to add tracks from their favorite bands to projects. They told us music selection is the first thing they do. They also told us choosing the right music was a critical part of a successful video. Music sets the emotional tone. If you think about some of the most memorable experiences you've had viewing a film, chances are you'll remember the music.
We leveraged relationships we'd built with record labels from our time at MP3.com to provide royalty free tracks. It was a great match! Our customers got free music to use in their mixes, and the bands gained exposure from the Eyespot website and early YouTube. Some bands you may recognize started out on Eyespot! Notably The Streets and Gossip.
One step further
Once we realized the music was driving engagement, we made deals with studios to allow the use of short content clips. Our customers promptly began to add them in their mixes!
We were the first company allowed to offer Star Wars clips from Lucasfilm. Major studios provided short mixable clips of upcoming movies as a form of interactive advertising. Sports soon followed with the NBA and the MLB. We had this dynamic, fun community of customers and creators that grew from 0 to around one million.
Sharing and validation
Mixes lived on our community site. Customers shared mixes on early YouTube and Vimeo. As with any social media today, positive reinforcement from the community drove our most prolific creators to make some astounding pieces. I was amazed and humbled by what people made.
Sorenson Media acquired us in 2008.
Old School struggles!
Looking back on it- design thinking
User-centered design these days focuses on solving problems for people. Many of the successful startups after the Web 1 bubble burst were thinking carefully about communities and creating innovative solutions for them. It worked back then, as it does now.