Next big thing: is Viddy the new Instagram?

30 Apr 2012

Viddy’s been around for a bit but I’ve noticed my Facebook Timeline mysteriously filling up with all manner of video from friends on Viddy and the occasional tweet. That’s exactly how I got into Instagram.

In recent days Viddy has earned the accolade “Instagram for video” perhaps before Instagram got there by design. It doesn’t help that a new subscriber to Viddy is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

So what is Viddy? Well, like some of the hottest start-ups toda it’s primarily an app for your iPhone, Android smartphone, iPad or Windows Phone that quite similarly to Instagram let’s you capture something, apply an effect and share it with your Twitter followers and put what you’ve watched into your Facebook Timeline.

But I’m not sure if Instagram needs to feel particularly threatened by Viddy. I think Google-owned YouTube is likely to feel a slightly threatened sensation and I think so because of the nature of videos being shared.

These tend to be short bursts of something novel, like a bloke bouncing off a trampoline into a wall. Once cat videos start going up, things will get interesting.

But there’s something tricky about Viddy that I was quick to notice. While not quite as risqué as ChatRoulette videos, some of the videos watched and shared on Viddy and that have popped up on people’s Timelines do offer plenty of innuendo. So when a friend shares something on Facebook publicly that would raise an eyebrow they probably didn’t realise it went out on their Timeline.

Perhaps this is a problem with Timeline now, maybe you don’t want people to know you’ve read a particular Guardian or Washington Post article or watched something on Netflix. And you didn’t really get around to disabling the sharing function.

Luckily Viddy comes with an on/off switch for publishing material to your social graph. But bear in mind what you may find amusing or mildly titillating could potentially offend followers or give them the wrong idea about you. But that’s the gauntlet we run in a socialised 2012.

Viddy does police itself though – some videos that get shared if they’ve been flagged appear to be temporarily disabled until they pass a review.

The Facebook Timeline effect

There’s no doubt that Facebook’s Timeline has been integral to the recent rapid growth spurt enjoyed by new brands. Viddy in particular has benefited by growing from 60,000 monthly active users to more than 920,000 monthly active users.

I have to say in terms of apps Viddy is quite a rich experience. The software is slick, easy to navigate and similarly to Instagram Viddy is its own social network with friends you can connect to and see what’s trending.

Viddy is definitely attracting the interest of venture capitalists. In February it raised US$6m in Series A financing in a round led by Greycroft Venture and Qualcomm.

Last week TechCrunch reported that it is raising a further US$30m and is valued at around US$370m.

Keep an eye on this current trend of new start-ups emerging as apps first, and websites second. If Viddy is anything to go by it sounds like a prime acquisition target for either Facebook or Google.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years