Facebook in Pursuit of Interactive Video With Vidspresso Deal

Facebook struck a deal with Utah-based Vidpresso to acquire its technology and absorb its seven-person team, without actually buying the company. Vidpresso’s website says that the new partnership will help put its tools in the hands of creators. Founded in 2012 to “make video more like HTML,” Vidpresso allows publishers to incorporate interactive graphics and superimposed captions to encourage viewers to respond to polls or ask questions. BuzzFeed, Nasdaq, NBC, TED, Turner Sports and Univision are among its customers.

VentureBeat reports Vidpresso noted that it was founded to make video “easier to author, easier to change, and customized per person,” and that “[joining Facebook] gives us the best opportunity to accelerate our vision and offer a simple way for creators, publishers, and broadcasters to use social media in live video at a high quality level.”

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Existing Vidpresso customers,” it added, “will still be able to use the product following the transition to Facebook,” though it’s unclear whether the product will still work with live video on YouTube and Periscope and other such platforms.

VB notes that, “Vidpresso’s tech should integrate fairly smoothly with some of the video offerings that Facebook is trying to push, such as Watch, its home for both user-generated and original content, Facebook’s 2018 priorities; IGTV, its new hub for long-form video on Instagram; and its AR games for Messenger group video chat, launched just last week.”

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has stressed the importance of video, specifically for Watch, to create “new experiences that help people connect and start conversations.”

TechCrunch, which broke the news of the “acqui-hire,” notes that, “passive consumption of static video is both unhealthy for viewers and undifferentiated for the tech giants that power it,” especially as they compete with Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat.

The six-year old Vidpresso previously “raised $120,000 in seed capital from Y Combinator in 2014, plus some angel funding,” and by 2016 stated that it was profitable. Facebook will, at least temporarily, provide Vidpresso services to that company’s existing client base for free. “Whether Facebook eventually turns away old clients or stops integrating with competing video platforms like Twitch and YouTube remains to be seen.”

Facebook Live has hosted 3.5 billion broadcasts, which “get six times as many interactions as traditional videos.” But, adds TechCrunch, “it’s become clear that most users don’t have compelling enough content to stream,” which is where Vidpresso comes in, helping Facebook’s  “semi-pro creators to be able to broadcast snazzy videos with graphics, comments and polls that can aesthetically compete with ‘big video’ but that feel more natural.”