A pair of New York City entrepreneurs frame what could be the next hit social-media website this way: Twitter gave consumers new respect for each and every word, and photos became a pastime on Instagram. But where can friends share quick videos?
"Ocho is a social platform built to respect video," said Jourdan Urbach, an expert violinist who came up with the idea for the video-sharing app with Jonathan Swerdlin.
Two years ago, the pair mocked up what Ocho should look like in a frenzied overnight session after a hunt for dinner turned into a conversation about what YouTube would look like if it were designed for today's smartphone-centric world.
Ocho, available for iOS devices as it launches Tuesday, allows users to post videos of up to eight seconds and share it with an online social network. Videos can take on voice-overs, and both recording volumes and color tones can be adjusted. People either browse the videos "newsfeed-style" by scrolling downward or in a constant stream back-to-back by turning the phone to landscape mode.
Unique elements include the ability to insert links into the caption and the display of the videos in a widescreen 16:9 format rather than typical 4:3 format found on some competitors.
Popular video apps — Instagram, Vine and Snapchat to name a few — have hundreds of millions of users. But Swerdlin said that though Vine is easy to use, many people are intimidated out of uploading videos onto the video-sharing app owned by Twitter because of the high-production value and edgy humor needed to make something popular. Ocho also shares the elegance of Facebook-owned Instagram, but with video as the forethought rather than afterthought. That's one of the reasons why people must use video rather than text to comment on videos.
"We hope it spawns an incredible amount of creativity," Swerdlin said.
Instagram limits videos to 15 seconds and Vine to six seconds. Ocho settled at eight, noting that humans can't look at video without diverting the gaze for much longer that. And compressing and transmitting videos longer than 10 seconds is more complicated, Swerdlin said.
The co-founders expect many users to replace Instagram with Ocho during lively moments that deserve more than a photo. YouTube stars should benefit from using Ocho, they said, serving as a quick, personable way to stay in touch with their fans. The ability to link to their other content "is really powerful for these online influencers and creators," Urbauch said.
Ocho also plans to attract media partners. Vice Media's sports division, for example, plans to make use of Ocho to show clips of athlete interviews, the start-up said.
[For the Record: Nov. 11, 11:03 a.m. PST: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Showtime plans to make use of Ocho.]
The company has raised about $1.7 million in venture capital funding, including from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Matthew Brimer, the co-founder of entrepreneurship school General Assembly. Making money off Ocho shouldn't be a problem, Swerdlin said.
"We think targetable, measurable, interactive video is most attractive medium on the Internet," he said.