Friday, September 12, 2008
Interview with Frank Sinton, Mefeedia
We recently ran into Frank Sinton, founder of Burbank-based Mefeedia (www.mefeedia.com), a popular online video search web site. Although Mefeedia plays in the very crowded, online video space, the site seems to be very popular with end users, so we thought we'd chat with Frank a bit about the company. Frank's father was the founder of Think Technologies, which created Think Pascal and Think C, and was bought for a significant sum by Symantec in the 80's; Frank is following in his father's footsteps in running a startup.
Tell me a little bit about what Mefeedia is about?
Frank Sinton: Mefeedia is a new way to search and discover new video from all across the web, no matter where it's hosted.
How did the company come about, and why'd you start it?
Frank Sinton: It came from a need. I was really frustrated with all the different ways and different video sites that were popping up, and was frustrated from a user aspect on finding stuff I'd like to watch. I thought of creating a Tivo-like experience to constantly update with news shows and videos you'd like. That's why we came up with Mefeedia, we really felt that video search, in particular, was a real need for users--but it wasn't just about getting in a black box and typing a search term, you are also finding video through your friends, and through those water cooler conversations. So really, we're trying to capture those conversations that are happening, specifically focused on media, audio, news video, etc.
So you don't actually host the videos?
Frank Sinton: We don't host the videos. We have technology that supports literally hundreds of players. Any player that's out there, we support it. What we do is we index video, through RSS feeds, and indexes via sites and our own indexer. There's a lot of different ways, from a technology perspective, that we're discovering video. We also have users submitting videos from other sites like the YouTube's of the world.
What's your background?
Frank Sinton: I come from a long line of entrepreneurs, and it's always been in my blood. My father actually started a company and sold it, back in the 80's to Symantec--it was the first C++ compiler for the Macintosh. So I got the buzz back then, when I was 13 or 14, and have been really involved in startups all my life. I really got the bug to start my own company a couple of years ago, saw this need out there, and decided I was going to start Mefeedia.
Had you been doing something like this before?
Frank Sinton: I worked at Business.com, wrote the original search engine for Business.com. I worked for Fogdog Sports, and worked on their back end partnerships and integrations. I worked at Sony Pictures for a number of years--actually, 4 years--on both media search and digital studios. That is, digitizing the whole process of producing a film or TV show. I have sort of a combination of startup and big media company experience, which fits particularly well in this space.
This is a particularly crowded space, though you guys have some significant traffic. What differentiates you and how do you stay above the noise?
Frank Sinton: It's a crowded space in that people are constantly coming out with new products and companies. But, from the standpoint of who is actually getting traction it's only a handful of companies. We think we're distinguishing ourselves in that we're not focused on producing video, but are more like the Comcasts of the world, providing better ways for people to browse for videos and record it, i.e. Tivo for the web. We've gotten huge user response, which is highly rewarding.
So what's the business model behind the site?
Frank Sinton: We're monetizing via advertising. We're doing it many different ways. One of the ways is obviously outside advertising. We're also selling sponsorships into our channels, such as our travel channel, because we're aggregating so much video from around the web, we've got all these channels we can sell. We're also doing content deals -- doing deals with content producers with revenue share, to sell advertising inside their videos itself.