Skype Founder to Target Netflix with Vdio(?)

Posted by · October 18, 2011 4:11 pm

After GigaOm published an expose on the secret life that Skype co-founder Janus Friis has been living for the past couple years, the headlines have been buzzing with talk of a new competitor in the video streaming market. Set to join the ranks of Netflix, Blockbuster, Hulu, and Amazon, Friis is said to have been “assembling an A-team of media and web technology experts” since 2009, with an ultimate agenda that is “gunning straight for Netflix.”

Remaining in stride with the clever naming of its audio counterpart, Rdio, the name of the alleged new video service is Vdio.

Currently nothing more than a landing page containing pictures from popular movies like “The Shining,” “The Karate Kid” and others—and a Facebook login button—the Vdio website is still yet to go live, or even formally announced for that matter. However, the evidence provided by GigaOm and others does make this story stronger than any old rumor.

According to Mashable contributor Jennifer Van Grove, Vdio has been has been operating clandestinely for nearly two years under the name Project WBS, a Los Angeles-based entity that was founded in 2009. While the Project WBS staging site clearly connects the company to Vdio, what connects it all back to Friis is the fact that all of Project WBS’s employees “have strong ties to the Skype founders,” she writes. Further making the case, Van Grove also shows readers how if one researches the Vdio trademark, s/he will notice that the registrant—Pulser Music Services—is closely associated with Rdio, which Friis also co-founded.

Nevertheless, those details aside, notes Van Grove, Vdio “remains cloaked in mystery.”

In fact, aside from the “Are you watching?” tagline and the not-so-subtle service name, these speculators cannot yet say with certainty that Vdio is set to be the next “Netflix killer.” Questions of content licensing or the product itself are yet to be answered, and they will remain unanswered so long as the folks at Vdio decide to fly under the radar.

Also worth asking is whether the “coming soon” promise visible exclusively to residents of the United Kingdom is indicative of plans to target only a sliver of the global streaming market. If so, talk of an ultimate agenda by Friis to take on frontrunner Netflix may in fact be a bit lofty, not to mention completely unsubstantiated.

Then again, speculation is half the fun.