News of Kilar’s new startup first popped up last year under the nickname the Fremont Project, as the company slowly hired several other former Hulu execs, including former CTO Richard Tom, former ad head Jean-Paul Colaco, former senior software dev Zachary Pinter, former VP of product Loon Lee, and others. And yesterday, Kilar released a brief statement on Vessel’s website with more details about the company — specifically, what the startup plans to do and who is cutting the checks.
From the statement, Kilar indicates that Vessel will be a media tech startup focused primarily on original video content. This is familiar ground for much of the old Hulu team, which, under Kilar, was able to get four of the five major broadcast TV networks to play (relatively) nice with their content under one roof, and paved the way for transitioning the lucrative TV commercial ad business into the age of streaming video.
In terms of investors, Vessel has chosen well. Kilar reveals that the startup has raised funding led by Benchmark, Greylock Partners, and Bezos Expeditions — the personal investment company of Amazon head honcho (and Kilar’s old boss) Jeff Bezos.
Here’s how Kilar described Vessel — curiously, he doesn’t get too specific beyond the involvement of content creators and streaming video:
We’ve been busy building a service whose mission is to delight consumers and content creators alike. Though we still have more work to do at Vessel, we want to share this brief update and reach out to the creator community. If you are a content creator, particularly a video content creator, we should talk!
We have assembled a unique and talented team, with strong experience building and innovating at places like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon. As a team, we are unusually passionate about the intersection of media and technology; we see an opportunity to improve media, particularly next generation video.
Kilar said he and his team will have more to share about the new startup later in the year, which echos the vague message that pops up when you first visit Vessel’s website.
I’m going to take a wild guess and say Vessel is targeting original video content creators — especially YouTube stars that belong to one of the larger multichannel networks, or perhaps even the multichannel networks themselves. Google’s YouTube is currently scrambling to find ways to help boost the revenue of its leading channel partners so they can justify treating their YouTube channel as a viable business. So far, both Yahoo and Comcast are rumored to be working on rival YouTube streaming video services powered by these creators that will promise larger payouts.
But again, we won’t know for sure what Vessel’s plans are until later this year. Those in the media world will be watching Vessel closely as new details emerge.