Qik lets tourists–and reporters–broadcast live from phones.
By David Talbot
Founding date: 2006
Funding amount: $4 million
Wandering the streets of Manchester, NH, during the presidential primary campaign, a self-described “citizen journalist” named Steve Garfield bumped into Duncan Hunter, a minor Republican candidate. Garfield pointed his phone’s camera at Hunter for a quick interview, whereupon Hunter disclosed that he was about to tell CNN he wasn’t quitting the race.
What Hunter didn’t know is that Garfield’s phone was armed with software from the startup Qik, allowing it to capture video and stream the interview–in real time–on Qik’s website and thence to other platforms, including Garfield’s Twitter network. Thus, Garfield says, he scooped CNN on this bit of election minutia.
Qik’s data center not only converts cell-phone videos to Flash format but allows Web viewers to send text messages back to the person capturing the video. Bhaskar Roy, a former marketing director at Oracle who is a cofounder, says Qik’s key is its adaptability–it works with phones and networks of widely differing capacities, and does so in real time. “We have been focusing on speed and live aspects, and the quality,” he says. Roy says the company has recruited thousands of trial users in 55 countries.
The company is now working on business models. In one, it would sell ads to Web video consumers who text-message replies; in another, it would take a cut from sales of high-end cell phones that capture the best videos (which would come Qik-equipped). Garfield is happy to pay: “Viewers can type in a window while watching, and affect the coverage. That’s, like, totally amazing and groundbreaking!”