Yesterday, The Venice Project. Today, Joost. Tomorrow, Yours.

There is a lot of coverage today about the official unveiling of The Venice Project, now called Joost. You can easily do a search on Google News for Joost – I’m sure it will be in all of the papers tomorrow.


Joost is the latest and greatest attempt to bring high definition video to the internet. The reason it is getting so much attention is simple: Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis. They are the founders behind the infamous peer-to-peer music service, Kazaa, and more recently, the voice-over-IP phenomenon Skype.

Om Malik, on NewTeeVee, has the best write up of the new venture:

The Venice Project is not just another online video start-up. The Luxembourg-based company is the latest co-production of the two-person hit factory of Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis. The founders of Kazaa and Skype are hoping that The Venice Project will upend the television experience just as their earlier efforts turned the music and phone businesses on their respective heads.

And while the glam duo might hog the headlines, the task of making the Venice Project a reality falls on the shoulders of Fredrik de Wahl, a lanky Swede with a quiet demeanor who has been a cohort of Messrs. Zennstrom and Friis for more than half a decade.

Before reading his piece, I had no idea how much of the Joost application was built over Mozilla.  Very interesting, and a smart move in the current environment where the market will not reward you for rebuilding UI and application frameworks.  It will reward you for quality of user experience, and of course, our good friend time-to-market.

The Joost website is fun to read – you can sign up for the Beta if you are running Windows.  You can also enjoy the colorful design of the sight, and the flowery Web 2.0 language.

I had the opportunity, briefly, to meet Niklas & Janus in December while attending an eBay leadership conference here in San Jose.  I cannot pretend to know them well, but it is immediately striking when you meet them how passionate they are about user experience and simplicity, and how direct and honest they are with their comments and discussion.

I’m not sure how to resolve the limitations of our current broadband infrastructure in the United States to allow for the peer-to-peer distribution of content like high definition television, which is just incredibly large.  It’s so large that a Tivo Series 3 requires a 250GB drive just to store about 30 hours of it.   Hard drives are big, but the upload support that most people have from their ISPs is quite small.  For example, I get 3Mbps download from Pacific Bell, sorry SBC, sorry AT&T, but only 1/4 that is available as upload capacity at 768Kbps.  That means it’s possible for me to download video, but hard for me to use my upload service to “share” the content with another user.

In any case, I’m glad to see The Venice Project come out from under wraps.  Let’s see if Joost becomes a verb the way that Skype did.