After moving from France to San Francisco, Jonathan Benassaya searched for ways to send photos and videos of his two children to his parents.
Email attachments were neither elegant nor big enough. He didn't trust the privacy protections at YouTube or Facebook. Getting his parents to download Dropbox seemed like a chore, and he contends videos accessed through Dropbox didn’t come out that great on mobile devices.
Benassaya’s latest company, Stream Nation, launched publicly today. It's an online file storage service similar to Dropbox, SkyDrive, iCloud and other digital lockers. But he says it is the first to address the needs of families and the first to focus on multimedia instead of documents.
“We built a service around media,” he said. “On the market, you have no solution that just stores media.”
He expects people to upload vacation videos, family photos and even movies and TV shows that are sitting on hard drives or DVDs. The files can be shared to one other user at a time, for 24 hours at a time. The files can’t be downloaded by those other viewers, and Stream Nation will use a streaming technology that he says makes it tough to illegally download the content.
“We don’t want it to be misused by pirates,” Benassaya said.
There’s no limit to the file sizes. But if users want more than 10 gigabytes of storage, they have to start paying. Plans start at $4 a month for 100 gigabytes of space. Dropbox charges $10 a month for 100 gigabytes.
Despite the focus on families and friends, Benassaya said some production companies are using Stream Nation to store their movie files.
“They get access to the files whenever they want instead of carrying racks of hard drives,” he said.
All the data uploaded to Stream Nation will be both stored and backed up on servers in Europe, meaning it will be protected by the European Union’s strong privacy laws. Benassaya said it hasn’t had a third party verify security measures at its cloud providers. But the product started with videos of his own children, so, he said, privacy has always been key.
The company has nine employees divided across Luxembourg and San Francisco. Stream Nation also has contracted with another company to have two people focused on security issues.
At launch, users can save content to Stream Nation by pasting a URL from YouTube or a similar service, importing from Dropbox or downloading an app to upload from a computer or Apple iPad or iPhone. The goal is to soon allow imports from Instagram, Flickr, Facebook and other services as well.
The inability to upload from a personal computer without downloading software could cost Stream Nation a few users. It's also hard to imagine many active Facebook users migrating content to a new platform. However, Stream Nation could find promise among film and photo studios and people who have been skittish about putting content online.
Another way Stream Nation plans to do things differently from other media-sharing services is to allow the content to be deleted from the originating device once it’s uploaded. Benassaya said that would free up storage space on computers, tablets and smartphones. And people could still get offline access if they desire.
“Media is becoming a lot more complex to store, to move and to share,” he said.
"Stream Nation is created to address all of those issues.”