Why there's no money in being a Web celebrity

Owen Thomas · 12/03/08 02:20PM

We like to watch people trying to be famous. And we're so desperate for a shred of authenticity that we'll watch just about anyone doing anything, as long as it's live and on the Internet. Hence the lifecasting phenomenon.

Suicide by webcam

Owen Thomas · 11/21/08 02:40AM

Lifecasting, a kind of do-it-yourself reality TV broadcast on the Internet, has thousands of practitioners. Until last night, one of them was Abraham Biggs, a 19-year-old Florida resident, who used a webcam to broadcast his death, too.Wednesday night, after he posted a suicide note on the Web, he overdosed on pills on camera as users of Justin.tv, a lifecasting site, watched. Some posted comments egging Biggs on. When he took the pills and stopped moving, they laughed, expecting his corpse to revive and announce it was all a joke. No one called the police until hours had passed. They kept watching as officers came to the scene and verified his death. Even then, commenters wrote "OMFG" and "LOL." NewTeeVee, an online-video industry publication, called the incident a "a striking display of the power of live video." The power, but definitely not the glory: It shows how the viewers of lifecasting devalue life. Users of sites like Justin.tv have grown accustomed to watching people mug for the camera. All the world's a stage, and all the men and women on webcams are merely players. But what happens when we're not playing around? Justin.tv CEO Michael Seibel, in a statement, didn't comment on the video, merely noting the site's policy for removing content flagged as "objectionable." The digital record of Biggs's death is just bits on a server. What about the users who cheered Biggs on as he performed a snuff film? Can we flag them, too? There will always be teenagers who try to kill themselves in awful ways. But one would hope the audience would not applaud.

Yale begs student startups to stay — except this guy

Paul Boutin · 08/01/08 02:00PM

The Yale Entrepreneurial Institute is a program whipped up by the school to connect student-founded startups with the local business environment. The program's director hopes YEI "leaves students and potential students with the impression that Yale is an incubator for student-run businesses, just like Stanford or MIT." This is the program's second summer. Last year, four of the six startups in the program left for literally greener pastures. Yale should be careful what it wishes for. At a school known for its tradition of naked parties, shouldn't authorities be glad the program wasn't around to keep the pants-shedding likes of Justin.tv cofounder and Yale alum Justin Kan on campus?

Lame as it ever was, TechCrunch party spawns much better afterparty

Alaska Miller · 07/28/08 02:40PM

TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington is viciously critical of Web startups that make their users pay for their wares. But he's perfectly happy to charge party sponsors for booths. The return on investment was hard to find at TechCrunch's annual party held at August Capital's Sand Hill Road offices on Friday. The booths, in the midst of free booze, pretty people, and business cards to swap, went completely unnoticed. The party, TechCrunch's third annual event held with the VC firm, was unremarkable. But the afterparty was legendary. We got in and took photos of the whole thing.

Justin.tv to let users launch their own home-shopping networks

Owen Thomas · 07/22/08 11:40AM

At first we found lifecasting the most depressing thing around; now, the practice of living your life attached to a camera seems depressingly popular, Silicon Alley Insider reports. Justin.tv has reached 1 million registered users. The site still has no business model, but CEO Michael Seibel says the company is working on an online payments system that will let lifecasters hawk wares to their viewers. Cancel that bit about lifecasting being a downer: The prospect of letting a million QVCs bloom is far scarier.

Justin.tv's Emmett Shear makes Freudian slip about selling company

Jackson West · 04/17/08 03:00PM

Kicking off a thread on Hacker News about how to sell a business, Emmett Shear, CTO of live-video startup Justin.tv, accidentally typed the name of his current employer instead of his previous company, Kiko Calendar, which was sold on eBay for $250,000. A sign the company is desperately looking for the exit? Who knows. But it certainly doesn't help to answer part of the original question about flipping a startup:

Justin.tv — one year old and still full of illegal content

Jordan Golson · 03/24/08 05:40PM

Lifecasting site Justin.tv has come a long way since banning a broadcaster for one night of indecent exposure — that is, sexual acts. There may be less porn now, but other illegal content now graces Justin.tv's servers. Right now I'm watching a stream of Fox Sports Net West's broadcast of the San Diego Padres playing the Los Angeles Angels. Last night, more than 2,000 people watched the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers play. Given Major League Baseball's draconian online reporting rules — no more than seven photos from any game; audio and video clips can be a maximum of two minutes and can't be streamed live — we doubt the MLB is happy about this.

Yahoo's lifecasting service is Live! Sort of!

Jordan Golson · 02/07/08 09:29PM

Yahoo's lifecasting service has "launched" — if you can call it that. As we reported, Yahoo Live allows users to stream live video for users to watch, similar to the services of startups Ustream.tv and Justin.tv. This marks the first time that a major company has gotten into the lifecasting space. At launch, the featured user was "JT the Bigga Figga," but sadly, Yahoo seems to be running out of server capacity and is streaming only intermittently. Yahoo's Bradley Horowitz announced in his Twitter feed that "live.yahoo.com is, well, live... Help us crush it with load." I guess he wasn't kidding. If it decides to work, watch Splunk the Pony streaming live, after the jump. It's by far the most interesting lifecast I've ever seen.

Yahoo soft-launches lifecasting service

Jordan Golson · 01/29/08 06:00PM

Yahoo is launching a new video service called Yahoo Live. Initially available for Yahoo employees only, the service allows users to create their own "social broadcasting experience." Translation: Yahoo is the first major company to get into the lifecasting space currently occupied by startups like Ustream.tv and Justin.tv. Last week, we reported that Yahoo was looking to launch some splashy products to distract from its financial problems and layoff rumors. Yahoo Live seems to fit the bill. Catch the notice posted on Yahoo's intranet, Backyard, after the jump.

Lunch with Justin.tv and party with TechStars

Dianne de Guzman · 01/24/08 01:00PM

For those looking for lunch plans (or face time on the internet), Justin.tv is hosting and, yes, lifecasting a tech talk with Ethan Herdrick, cofounder of the Biographicon, a stealth startup. Later tonight there are two events going on in the Peninsula: SVASE is hosting a discussion on clean technology out in Palo Alto and TechStars — a company that helps startups get off the ground — is hosting a party at the Plug and Play Tech Center.

For LiveJournal, Six Aparting is such sweet sorrow

Owen Thomas · 12/04/07 11:01PM

Users of LiveJournal call it "defriending." As terrible as it sounds, defriending's not really that bad; it just means you're bored with someone and don't want to hear about their issues anymore. Or share yours with them. That, in essence, is what Six Apart, the San Francisco-based blog-software company, has decided to do with LiveJournal, the online community it acquired from Brad Fitzpatrick in 2005. Andrew Anker, Six Apart's vice president of chopping the company into little bits for convenient and lucrative disposition corporate development, orchestrated the sale of LiveJournal to Sup, a Russian media company which already runs a localized version of the site. With the sale, Anker and the rest of Six Apart's team are letting LiveJournal know, as gently as they can, that they're just not interested in its problems.

iJustine to run her own show

Tim Faulkner · 11/29/07 05:30PM

As reported a couple of weeks ago, Justine Ezarik, the blonde videoblogger better known as iJustine, has opened her own website, iJustine.tv. Neither of her potential suitors, Justin.tv and Ustream.tv , appear to have won her heart outright. Ezarik's maintaining channels on both lifecasting startups, and also posting videos using Viddler and Revver. The girl knows how to keep her options open. Her latest affair is with ChannelMe.tv, a little-known .tv domain registrar, video-streaming service, and advertising platform. Unsurprisingly, ChannelMe's site now features iJustine.

iJustine dumping Justin.tv for single life?

Tim Faulkner · 11/14/07 02:52PM

Rumor is spreading that Justine Ezarik, the blonde videoblogger better known as iJustine, is leaving Justin.tv. Ezarik, who holds the dubious distinction of being the most popular lifecaster of the moment, is currently denying that she's leaving the self-broadcasting service where she made her name. Ustream.tv, where Justine first started videoblogging before she made it big on Justin.tv, has regained the affections of the vlog hottie, or so the story goes. As is often the case when two are competing for the attention of one woman, neither suitor ever really wins.

Lifecasting site bans lifecasting

Tim Faulkner · 10/24/07 05:31PM

We've been covering — so to speak — the exposed skin at lifecasting site Justin.tv not because we think the company should enter the porn business. Even if that's the site's best shot at actually making a buck. No, we're fascinated at how the startup is willing to cut off its core audience of self-involved youth, who want every moment of their lives on the Internet, titillating and stupefyingly boring alike. The company only received any attention at all because of the any-thing-goes, 24/7 habits of its founder Justin Kan. Now, the startup seems to have abandoned the spirit of "lifecasting" altogether.

Last defense of nude-lesbian haters removed

Tim Faulkner · 10/24/07 12:11PM

Lifecasting site Justin.tv no longer has any reason to restrict nudity and sexual content on their broadcasts. This morning's news of a United States Court of Appeals ruling overturning the recordkeeping provisions of the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1988, might have some effect on YouTube — but it's going to have a much bigger impact on lifecasters like Justin.tv.