How I Failed Launching Seesmic Video

It wasn’t about technology

Loic Le Meur
May 30, 2014 · 3 min read

I see many startup creators focus on the technology and the product features when they work on their product launch. I did just that when I started working on the first iteration of Seesmic in 2007.

Conversations in video show you as you are

I like online conversations and think there is no better way online to get as close as possible to reality than recording a video of yourself and sharing it.

Videos bring trust

In order to create trust online and a real community, you need to be yourself as you really are… If you follow me online and meet me in person there is a good chance that you find the same person. Many people create a fake image of themselves online, try to look smarter or better (like, I could pretend that I have a good english accent) and the result is that trust is broken as soon as whomever stumbles upon them online figures it out.

My idea was just to bring the conversations we have in person online but not in realtime so anyone can jump on the thread at any moment.

Why it failed

Sure, it was seven years ago, pre-iPhone and pre-Android, so it was ahead of its time, we had to use Adobe Flash on a browser which sucked in so many ways I can’t even start to explain how bad it was. Technology would be so much better and more important all mobile today.

The main reason Seesmic Video failed is because of human factors, not because of technology

Most people are not comfortable sharing videos online. They think they look like sheeeeeet (and often do). They are shy. Recording yourself talking to a tiny camera isn’t intuitive and doesn’t feel right. It’s for weirdos (like myself).

That’s why it did not take off, it’s too much of a human habit change.

I am not convinced it would take off today, 7 years after I tried, because those human issues are still there.

Now of course you could say that selfies did not really exist a few years ago and are now super popular. Video selfies might feel natural soon.

Or you could say that the solution is Snapchat, sending it private to your friends without keeping a recorded version. Sure, that solves the fact that you look like crap and are afraid of saving that version of you for the public to see forever on the Internet. Not sure.

I just played with YouTube and Vine, also with a new app called Vlogma to see how technology evolved. Not that much it seems. YouTube is too slow to post and Vine isn’t made for conversations.

Do you think video conversation and video selfies will grow to become a mass phenomenon?

update: saw some good points about my post. The community that Seesmic Video created at the time was amazing, but small. It can be seen as a success that way and could have remained an interesting small service, sadly that wasn’t the objective.

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