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Why Starting Justin.tv Was A Really Bad Idea, But I’m Glad We Did It Anyway (techcrunch.com)
119 points by icey on Feb 12, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments



That was the first guest post I've ever read on Techcrunch that was genuinely interesting and didn't read like droning self promotion. Thanks, Justin!


I'd go one further .... it was the first post on TC in a very long time that was genuinely interesting full stop.


The trolls on TC said one reason for the new brand is because VCs own almost all of Justin.tv. Is Socialcam owned by Justin.tv Inc?


The trolls are rampant and ill-informed. Socialcam is a Justin.tv project under a new brand and all of the founders are still with the company.

Only someone without a functional understanding of basic math could look at our funding history and believe that the founders own less than 10% of the company.


To be fair to the trolls it's fairly common for companies to do funding rounds that are not publicly announced.


Justin captures the main thing I remember from seeing these guys early on. It wasn't entirely clear what they were doing, but they were just having so much fun, you knew they would figure it out.


I really liked that. All the uncertainty / lack of specific and detailed plans is something I can definitely relate to, it's nice to see someone as successful as you guys never knew exactly where you were going till you got there.


We still might not know what we are doing... you never know.


There's no provable answer anyhow, because it's an inherently subjective matter.

Since circumstance can make a fool or a hero of any of us anyway, as you say, you never know.


I remember the sale of Kiko being a frontpage story in Reddit's early days. I'm still a huge Reddit fan but it's amazing how much the community has changed since then.


A really good read. More proof that a great team is worth more than a great idea.


isn't the whole lets make a platform kinda obvious...is that really what you were thinking(or not thinking) at the time or is it just a PR spun story to get coverage.

it's like the Goog guys designing Google just so they could better find their own stuff, only to realize that other people might like to use it too

I mean, even in the story you are talking about mass producing the hardware, when you were supposedly just doing the show


Yeah, I think it was pretty obvious, which is why in retrospect it seems stupid that we weren't pursuing it in the beginning. But I distinctly remember that after launch we debated which direction we should go (options included becoming a live (or not live) video cdn, the live platform, or trying to spin off multiple shows that we produced ourselves).

We were talking about mass hardware production to support shows that we directly produced or contracted.

To be honest, I wish that I was able to go back and tweak our execution: if the Justin.tv show was just a stunt, I would have had a platform ready to go when we launched it instead of waiting six months to build it!!


It didn't look like there was no vision from an external perspective. It looked just as described, like Justin.tv was launched to build out a huge live video platform.


We tried hard to make it seem like we knew what we were doing :)

It was a challenge.


You guys did a great job. I remember watching the GoDaddy advertisement banner going up in the "startup apartment headquarters", and at one point you following a reporter who was covering you out to her news van, then talking shop about video broadcasting. I remember thinking wow these guys totally raised the bar on what it means to create technology for a web startup. And it looked like everyone was having so much fun too. Fantastic.


There's another reason why justin.tv was a bad idea and that is, far from being a new form of entertainment, lifecasting had already been done to death by the time it came on the scene. There were even two major Hollywood movies built around the idea. And predictably, justin.tv in its original form did fail, but in the process opened up a new opportunity based more on a 'long tail' strategy.

This is a great example of how funding and connections are more important than a good idea. It gives you the luxury of changing direction if something doesn't work. And ultimately, the proximate cause of every business failure is running out of money. The lesson here is to gain the trust of wealthy patrons who are willing to give you a $50K check just to see how you fail.


I disagree that our idea was bad because lifecasting had been done before. First of all, you are calling it "lifecasting" because we thought of and popularized that term, and the fact that we were similar to two movies didn't prevent the idea from getting a massive amount of attention because it captured the interest of people and the media. Almost every idea has been "done before", but winners often emerge by innovating in an existing space (Google, Dropbox, Facebook, the list continues to infinity).

I said this earlier today to a friend: the most important things are team and perseverance. While it is true that we had the luxury of great advisors and investors who believed in the team from the beginning, many of my friends (Airbnb comes to mind) have gone from a great idea that NO ONE believed in, stuck with it, and got the funding later.

Connections and funding cannot save a team that isn't strong, and often times just set up a larger failure.


It wasn't just the two movies, it was Jenny and everyone who came after her. You're right that it got attention, but there was frankly no reason to expect it to given it was a trend that had already played out once.

I agree with you that funding and connections are not sufficient. But it is the limiting factor in the sense that there are more strong perserverant teams out there than there is money to service them all. And a team's strength is not a constant: most teams are only as strong as the list of mistakes they've made. Having funding gives you the luxury of making the mistakes and getting strong.

Perseverance is important but what it means depends on the context. A trust fund baby who keeps trying new businesses doesn't have much to lose, while a guy with a family to support who uses all his free time to work on his startup is making a huge sacrifice. And while I believe that perseverance is generally rewarded in many ways, the likelihood of it being rewarded with massive wealth is greatly overestimated.


I guess this was the answer to my question: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2149968


mixergy interview in the works?


why does he say they failed?


The original idea (a form of entertainment by 'lifecasting' Justin) wasn't sustainable on several levels. Of course, the company Justin.tv is alive and well, but with a different game plan than when they started out.




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