Sign up to receive 5 free days of our daily summary for tech news.

Read this article for free.

Already a subscriber? Log in here

Media Facebook

Has Live Video Arrived in the West?

Visiting the live-video app or website of YouNow can quickly become a voyeuristic journey into the narcissism of American Millennials, or their counterparts in other parts of the world. At any moment, hundreds or thousands of them are cursing, crying, laughing, rapping, singing, playing guitar, gossiping or even sleeping. They use the front-facing camera of their iPhone as friends or strangers watch and comment via text.

As live-video apps Meerkat and Periscope have demonstrated, user-generated live video is easier than ever to broadcast—and there’s some kind of audience out there for it, though some challenges remain. And its international. In China, live-video service YY is a $3.5 billion-valuation Internet company whose core product allows female singers to perform live for an audience of males, many of whom pay for the privilege.

Adi Sideman, CEO of YouNow, is uniquely positioned to run such a business in the West. A software engineer and filmmaker with a master’s degree in “interactive telecommunications” from New York University, he began building media applications for user-generated content starting in the 1990s. After running a firm that built user-generated media apps, he spun out YouNow from that firm in 2011. It now has 40 employees.

Growth was stagnant until last year when he overhauled the service to allow anyone to broadcast. Previously, there were only about 20 channels and broadcasters had to wait their turn. YouNow, which has raised $11 million, now draws 100 million monthly video views thanks to more than 150,000 daily broadcasts from about 50,000 broadcasters on average. The U.S. is YouNow’s top market, though 20 percent of streams come from Arabic-speaking countries and 15 percent from Germany.

We spoke to the 45-year-old Mr. Sideman, whose favorite word seems to be “inevitable,” about the expected entrance of other major companies to live user-generated video, including Facebook, and why Meerkat and Periscope will be successful.

What Is The Information?

Notes bb3aa5069205d702dda37fc71dc6f1c59df2310c4379304e9f1199f052af4884

Exclusive Articles

We broke it first. Receive original reporting you won't read anywhere else from the largest newsroom in tech.

Notebook b5103017ee163370a1667c9ce59ab0ef023875a17888105d26c185cadf31bb69

Daily news analysis

Every weeknight, we'll send you our reporters’ views on the day’s top tech news—distilled into one email.

Conference calls c9e664e8b96ee347d3e92b8309938f268422b9db98cfabca5c826fbb75054b23

Conference calls

Get access to our reporters and other top executives with monthly deep-dive calls into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles.

Events 499acedd16cffc41445edd76bfd302b2836c2a27419890f17130a6b10e2aa3df

Special Events

For no extra fee, get access to more than a dozen events yearly, from intimate dinners to larger gatherings with marquee speakers.

What else is included in my subscription?

Become a contributor

Share your views and find other subscribers by completing your profile. You’ll be listed in our contributor directory.

Slack community

Discuss topics and current events with our subscriber-only Slack group and share news about your company with other subscribers.

Annual Subscriber only benefits:

Org Charts

Access the only collection of tech company org charts. Our expanding database includes companies like Amazon, Snap, and Uber.

Crypto Newsletter

Our experts investigate the latest in the crypto world to keep you in-the-know about the movements of digital currencies.

Stay up to date on Silicon Valley

Sign up for Jessica Lessin’s (The Information’s CEO & Founder) free Saturday newsletter and also receive a complimentary week of our daily afternoon tech commentary email.

Already a subscriber? Log in here

Recent Articles

Asia Facebook

Facebook’s Top Representative in China Leaves Firm

By Wayne Ma and Sarah Kuranda

Media Amazon Google Facebook

Surprise Fans of TV Advertising? Smaller Tech Firms

By Nick Wingfield