Internet and mobile users can find just about anything through the recommendations of friends. The concept of “social discovery” is seen in services like Pinterest, which provides members with fashion and lifestyle inspiration; Highlight, which creates new social connections based on personal interests and location; and Socialcam, which enables user-generated video sharing among friends. But whatever the content—reviews, images, music—how do you sift through it all to find what suits your preferences? Chill, a new social discovery service that aims to help users mediate the glut of online video content, is catching the attention of top-tier investors and online video gurus.
“Your friends are the best quality filter. No one knows better what excites, delights, and entertains you than your friends. That’s why making video discovery social is important,” says Brian Norgard, founder of LA-based Chill. With his new site, Norgard wants to solve the problem of having to sample millions of online videos to find the ones you actually want to watch. Chill leverages Facebook’s open social graph and Twitter to filter and recommend personalized video content based around interest groups. Users can customize their content by selecting interest categories (like Animals, Funny, or Gaming), “following” friends and tastemakers, and aggregating videos they like into their own “collections,” which are similar to Pinterest’s pinboards. Norgard has already incorporated collections for “Athletes Dancing,” “Mako Sharks,” and “Interesting Interviews.” If users don’t want to share the Chill videos they have watched on their Facebook newsfeed, they can turn off the sharing option. Chill’s focus is on quality video discovery that lets users sit back and, well, chill while they watch curated, personalized videos without all the scavenging.
Launched just eight months ago, Chill already has over 18 million users and has drawn the attention of investors like Kleiner Perkins, Atlas Venture, Red Point Ventures, CrunchFund, and Troy Carter. But Chill is different from well-known mobile app competitors Viddy and Socialcam (purchased by AutoDesk for $60 million in July). “We are holistically unique and separated from Socialcam and Viddy,” say Norgard. “We’re not a point-and-shoot app that uploads videos to YouTube and then propagates those videos across your social graph. We’re a social video platform that aids discovery of high quality, existing content wherever it might live.” Chill already functions as both a mobile application and website, and may soon extend to tablet.
The next step in the evolution of online and mobile video may be to virtually replicate the nostalgic custom of gathering around the family-room television. By encouraging users to watch the same videos as their friends and family, Chill may help to encourage this timeworn form of personal connection. Now, people are likely to only view “must-watch” or funny videos that their friends post on Facebook or message through chat. With Chill, waiting time is eliminated and users can watch their friends’ recommendations whenever they want.
Still, while services like Chill may make video content more accessible and relevant to the user, most people watch videos in isolation on their smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers—even if the video was recommended by a coworker down the hall or a family member in the next room. We may be grasping at the concept of “social discovery” as a replacement for actual social experience. But even if you’re just chilling by yourself, it’s nice to see something that reminds you of a friend.