The most recent article about Joost here on WebTVWire stated that the company was “heading ever closer to death.” And that death now seems to have come after Joost.com, the trademark, and some technology assets have been acquired by an online ad network.
The Mighty Joost
As Joost reaches this unfortunate end, it’s hard to imagine quite how big a deal the service was in the run up to and around its launch. Hell, it was so secretive and self-important that it was known as The Venice project prior to being renamed Joost.
The service began life in October 2006 after being created by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. The pair were already well-known for both Skype and Kazaa so the signs were all there that Joost was guaranteed to succeed.
Prior to its launch, Joost had hundreds of software developers working on the service and had signed up a million eager beta testers (me included). But its launch at the end of 2007 was to be the high point for the service.
Joost Is Dead
This week saw Adconian Media Group acquire the assets of Joost for an undisclosed sum of money. Adconian is an online advertising network which clearly wants the Joost technology and branding to roll out better online video advertising.
Adconian maintains it intends to keep Joost.com running but the site is sure to change over the next few months as a result of the acquisition. 12 out of approximately 20 Joost staff members have joined Adconian as part of the deal, but details are very thin on the ground.
What Went Wrong?
This is a sad end for a service which had bags of potential and interest from around the world when it began. So, what went wrong?
Two things clearly contributed to Joost’s downfall:
1. A lack of essential, new content. Programming on Joost was bitty to say the least, with a combination of short, niche clips and archive shows from yesteryear. And while some enjoyed watching this content, it wasn’t enough to pull in the viewers.
2. The need to download the peer-to-peer desktop client meant many simply turned and fled. Joost finally switched to a Web-based solution in October 2008 but it was too little, too late by then.
The huge build-up to the release of Joost and its subsequent failure to really pull in viewers against the likes of YouTube and Hulu should be a lesson not just to online video startups but technology startups everywhere.
The market moves at such a pace that anyone caught stalling for even a moment can fall behind and fail to ever recover. Oh, and content is still king – that fact is as clear as anything.