Joost Reorganizes, Shifts Focus from Own Ad-Based Site

posted on by Egan Loo
Downsized Joost will help other firms build video sites under their own brands

Online video streaming service Joost announced yesterday its plans to change its core business model away from advertising-supported video streams on its own website. The company plans to reorganize as a technology service provider for other sites who wish to offer Internet video. In a letter to its current partners, CEO Mike Volpi cited poor economic times as the reason for the company's change of focus, and acknowledged that many employees — including Volpi himself — will lose their jobs in the reorganization. (Volpi will now be Joost's Chairman of the Board.) According to Advertising Age magazine, only 20 of Joost's 90 employees will remain with the company. The website will remain open and will continue to offer the currently available programming with advertising as a "showcase of our technology."

Skype and Kazaa co-founders Niklas Zennstöm and Janus Friis founded Joost in 2006 as an Internet television portal under the code-name "The Venice Project." The platform initially required custom client software and utilizing a discreet peer-to-peer technology similar to BitTorrent. The platform fell into disuse as web browser-based video came into prominence. Joost relaunched with a browser-based service similar to hulu in September 2008, but was unable to license a significant amount of mainstream television programming.

Joost was one of the first free video streaming sites to offer legal anime content, and currently hosts series from Funimation, ADV Films, Viz Media, and Toei Animation. The company previously had a short-lived arrangement with Nippon Television to offer the Kaiji and Buzzer Beater anime series exclusively. Both series have since been removed from the service. Currently available episodes are expected to remain available until their rights expire, but Joost has not announced any plans to add new content.

ANN will continue to make Joost content available on our video platform, but only in cases where a series is unavailable through hulu or Crunchyroll. Several Joost streams suffered from quality control issues, such as garbled video and truncated or missing episodes; ANN has reported these issues to Joost, but Joost's plans for resolving the issues are unknown in light of the reorganization.

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