NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- #waywire has received a lot of buzz for a company that's raised just $1.75 million in seed funding and that's mainly due to who is backing it.
"The network is designed to serve millennials. We're designed to serve youth voices," said company co-founder Sarah Ross, in an exclusive interview with TheStreet.
Millennials, defined as people born between 1980 and 1999, are a group that Ross says is under-served within the current media landscape."They're disenfranchised by the media, and that's why we're focused on creating a network for them," she said. One thing you'll notice when you're on the site is the abundant use of hashtags, but the company believes it identifies people. Instead of the traditional biographies used for company employees, employees instead pick three hashtags to describe themselves. Hashtags were made popular by Twitter as a way of searching topics, and Ross noted that hashtags now define a new type of social identity. When discussing how the company will make money, Ross didn't offer up any "magical bean" that waywire has discovered. Instead, she said the company plans to make money through the sale of advertising, the same way other video networks, like Google's YouTube service, seek to. Although the company hasn't started making money (Ross calls this the "pre-revenue phase"), there are four ways to contribute content: 1. links from existing content 2. uploading original content 3. creating user generated content via waywire's app 4. producing their own original content. There are several different video platforms, and it remains to be seen how waywire will eventually differentiate itself from the likes of YouTube, Hulu, Netflix (NFLX) and other video sources. "We believe that current video systems have complexity around discovery and sharing of video content. YouTube is such an extraordinary video repository, that finding videos that matter to me is cumbersome," Ross said. The company is just in its second week of alpha testing, so the jury on whether it can succeed with this model is likely to be out for a while, but with heavyweights such as Oprah, Schmidt, Booker and others behind it, it won't be for lack of trying. --Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York >Contact by Email. Follow @Commodity_Bull
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