Waywire, the hyped video site co-founded by Newark mayor Cory Booker, has released a new version of the service today that borrows plenty of design cues from Pinterest and adds some new functionality.
The service allows you to organize video clips from all over the web into custom “wires,” which essentially function like continuous online video channels. So for example, news videos from CNN, a short political awareness film on Vimeo, and some on the ground videos from YouTube will all play seamlessly within a Waywire channel without the need to advance to each video once its finished. So far, Waywire’s video partners include YouTube, Vimeo, NBC News, ABC, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and many more. It’s like a bookmarking site that might actually be useful in replacing your morning or evening routine of watching the news after a meal, and the overall idea is that people can curate the news better than the main stream media, which in turn will abolish the practice of news organizations telling you what’s important everyday.
In version 2.0 of Waywire, users now have the option of adding hashtags to videos, mixing multiple “wires” into a single feed and set the top video thumbnail for each video. You can also pluck out wires you like from someone else and begin curating it on your own. Basically, all of these additions make each Waywire collection more compelling for users to go out and build a solid collection of videos that can be shared with others.
“We’re allowing people to arrange videos into relevant collections so they have context, which is something that a lot of video services can’t really do,” Waywire co-founder Nathan Richardson said in an interview with VentureBeat.
This is a significant jump for Waywire, especially considering the high amount of hype the group obtained early on because of its super-hero mayoral co-founder and all-star lineup of investors, such as Oprah Winfrey, Google chairman Eric Schmidt, music entrepreneur Troy Carter, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman, and others. With Waywire 2.0, the site starts to take form as more of a platform for curating videos and less of a service that will invoke massive change in the world (aka social good). That’s not to say that Waywire won’t eventually bring change to the world in the same way Twitter has, but it’s yet to prove itself.
Richardson said Waywire users are gaining access to about 40 hours of new video content per day, which is significantly more than the estimated 1.5 hours perday it had access to about two months ago. By access, I mean videos that will seamlessly play on Waywire’s service without having to navigate to the site where the video is hosted to view it. And while the startup didn’t disclose many of its traffic stats, it did say that Waywire users are viewing an average of 13 minutes of content every time they visit.
As for being a platform, Richardson tells me there’s no reason Waywires can’t eventually become a place where music fans end up creating their own curated playlists. To do that effectively, the startup would almost certainly need to forge a partnership with music video king Vevo.
The new Waywire 2.0 also paves the way to advertising models, which include traditional pre- and post-roll video ads, in-player display ads, sponsored wires, and more. I asked co-founder Sarah Ross if the service could eventually mimic a model similar to StumbleUpon’s “Paid Discovery”, where content producers (or really any advertiser) has the option of tossing in their content into someone’s wire. It’s a possibility, but Ross told me “we need to scale much larger to see how our users are interacting with Waywire” before determining newer ways to sell advertising.