HyveUp – Patrick Koppula – FFWD

HyveUp - interview with Patrick Koppula, founder of FFWD.

The user-generated video phenomenon has grown so huge in the past couple of years that a large number of video-sharing platforms have sprouted on the back of Youtube’s success. The new online video landscape is a very confusing one for end users who have a hard time differentiating the unique offers of each video platforms. Video search technologies are still at a primary stage, meaning that finding a good video still remains a quest on the Web. StumbleUpon brought us the first generation of video personalization engine by offering a service that understands what type of video an individual user digs. The StumbleUpon video experience isn’t super fine-tuned though: After too many “skip this video”, users get fed up and leave the site.

Bringing videos to users on the basis of their personal preferences is the only solution to put some order in the online video chaos. Patrick Koppula, Founder and CEO of FFWD, is addressing this need. Before FFWD, Patrick Koppula was the man behind the music recommendation engine iLike. He felt that what he brought to music discovery, he could bring it to video discovery. FFWD is a video personalization engine, still in private alpha so far, that will launch public in the Fall of this year.<

The Channel Paradigm

Once a user signs up to the service, the first thing he should do is subscribe to channels. FFWD’s first differentiation in the video space is that instead of mainly looking at the similarity between two videos, it looks at the similarity between two channels withholding those videos: A channel holds more information about a withholding video than the video itself. For Patrick Koppula, a channel is the environment in which a video grows: A channel says as much about a video as a video says about a channel.

The Social Graph

As much as a channel reveals a lot about a video, a social graph reveals a lot about an individual. On FFWD, users can connect to their Facebook profile (right now an alpha FB app is available – it scans your video tastes) or Friendfeed accounts. With this information in hand, FFWD looks at the videos you and your friends like, and includes it in its algorithmic personalization formula.

The “Skip This Video” Behavior

In the end, despite all the calculus operated in the background to provide the best fit video to an individual, nothing beats the “skip this video” button that is very prevalent in the user interface, as you can see in the video. FFWD also takes into account how much of a video is watched, and pairs this data with the ones above to constantly fine-tune your video personalization experience.

Beyond the www

FFWD’s upcoming launch created a micro-buzz at the Under the Radar last June, because the service is also planned to run on the Wii and other types of electronic devices. The Wii is the entry portal to the television set. By accessing homes with Wii-furnished TV sets, FFWD is making a strong statement that it is not only a new generation of online video service, it is a new generation of TV surfing. Since the service is not public yet, it’s hard to draw conclusions or get too excited about the promises FFWD makes. So far, you can visit the site’s homepage and sign up for the Fall 2008 launch, or install the FB app mentioned above. Jason Kincaid made a good point in the Techcrunch’s review of the startup:

“ffwd’s success is going to lie entirely on its ability to generate accurate channels – users that have to click ‘next’ too many times are liable to leave the site for good.”

Learn more:
Matchmine to power personalized channel on ffwd – The Inquisitr
The dish on the next StumbleUpon: Ffwd – Webware
ffwd offers a personalized video channel that adapts to your tastes – VentureBeat
FFWD launches passive but personalized video site – TheDeal.com
ffwd Looks Cool – Makes Me the Curator – My Media Musings