Blog

November 8, 2012
HapYak Raises $850,000 for Social Video Platform

YouTube
is full of funny or insightful comments, but they’re usually buried below the
fold and disconnected from the video content itself. That realization prompted
Kyle Morton to found social video commentary platform HapYak, which is based in Waltham,
Mass. and allows users to add drawings and comments ala VH1 Pop Up Video or Madden
NFL color commentary.

Today at
Mozilla
MozFest
, HapYak
announced $850,000 in seed funding led by Kepha Partners with participation and
coordination from CommonAngels of Boston and angel investor Tom Burgess.

“The
inspiration [for HapYak] really comes from the fact that web video lags behind
every other way that people consume video entertainment,” says Morton. “In real
life, if I were to share a video with you, I’d tell you what was happening and I’d
react at different points. Because of that context, you’d get more from the
experience.”

With
HapYak, Morton hopes to bridge that gap between web and in-person video-sharing
using HTML 5 capability that allows users to add a layer of commentary on top
of videos.

“For
ecommerce and storytelling, no one was addressing the possibility for how
videos are actually used on the web which is always in social situations,” says
Morton, who previously worked with video at content optimization company RAMP. “I wanted to combine that
technology trend with the user expectation of that type of experience and
address it in in a social video context.”

He
anticipates that this technology will appeal to niche communities such as video
gamers creating a game walkthrough or educators creating illustrative videos
for students.

“It’s
another take on the John Madden-style telestrator,” says Morton. “In 10 or 15
minutes … they can transform a simple or beautiful video into something that’s
incredibly effective.” He points to a video illustrating ocean currents as an example.

Currently,
HapYak’s five full-time employees and a few contractors and interns are focused
on building the site’s user base. “Monetization opportunities come after that
as a natural outflow,” says Morton, who predicts they may add “pro features for
more advanced type of integration and advanced type of commentary or sponsored
commentary by notable individuals and companies. The focus right now is really
trying to set a standard for what is the best way to communicate better with
video.”

Susan Johnston is a journalist and contributor to VentureFizz.  You can follow Susan on Twitter (@UrbanMuseWriter) by clicking here.