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orgoologo.jpg Online communication start-up Orgoo is launching a new video chat service that merges the intimacy and conversational style of normal chats with the larger audience of video “lifecasting”.

Orgoo co-founder Sean Rad argues that there’s room for an application that falls between the video chat model exemplified by Skype and the new trend of video lifecasting, which Yahoo entered last month with Yahoo Live. (You can read our recent roundup of lifecasting start-ups here.) In the former, you can get a real conversation going, but there’s only an audience of one — namely, the other person you’re chatting with. In the latter, you send video messages to a potentially vast audience, but the conversation is all one-way.

This new focus on video chat is a detour from company’s original offering when we profiled it back in May. At the time, Orgoo was touting a service that merges your online communication, including instant messaging, email and chat. (It even included video chat, albeit in the traditional one-on-one conversational model, rather than the company’s new hybrid.) Orgoo isn’t neglecting this tool, Rad says, and will unveil some new features in the next few months.

Los Angeles-based Orgoo is angel funded for an undisclosed amount, Rad says.

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With Orgoo Video Chat, up to four people can have a normal conversation, but thousands of other users can also watch. (You can see me chatting — by myself — in the screenshot above.) The chat rooms are built around topics like the American Idol TV show and professional sports, so people will have a chance to find others with similar interests, start conversations and maybe even become the “stars” of a particular community whose discussions are watched by everyone.

Even if you’re stuck in the audience, there’s still plenty to do — users can comment on the video in the related text chat room, start private one-on-one video conversations and eventually jump into the video chat when someone leaves.

Still, if Orgoo Video Chat is going to take off, its users will need to have worthwhile things to say. I like the fact that Orgoo is bringing YouTube’s “anyone can be a star” philosophy to video chat. But there are a lot of sites doing video these days, and it’s a real challenge to stand out from the crowd. Of the companies we’ve profiled, Kyte seems to be the most similar — unlike Orgoo, it emphasizes the one-way communication of lifecasting “channels”, but it has similar video chat capabilities (our coverage).

In Orgoo, as elsewhere, I’ll stay in the room as long as someone’s saying something interesting.

[Update: Orgoo chief executive Michael Kantor outlines some other features in the comments below.]

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