Friday Nov 9, 2012 by Susan Johnston - Contributor, VentureFizz
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.”