First, video is hot. Second, producing it is expensive, especially when you’re a busy newsroom whose budgets – and staff – are constantly shrinking. So, how are you supposed to generate quality video?
Enter Wibbitz, a text-to-video platform that creates broadcast ready, branded videos for publishers – within seconds – to meet the demand for digestible video content that can be watched on any device.
Here’s how they do it: Wibbitz uses sophisticated automated technology to turn existing text-based articles into video summaries with little input or edits necessary from the publisher. The text is analyzed for tone and content to help create a summarized script, which is then automatically matched with licensed photos/visual content and a voiceover to complete the video creation process.
“High quality video content is no longer a luxury for publishers – it’s a necessity. Most video content is expensive to produce and maintain, and our technology solves this growing issue,” said Wibbitz cofounder and CEO Zohar Dayan. “Newsrooms are shrinking, video production remains costly, and there is huge demand for video ad placement. Wibbitz relieves these pressures so that editors can focus on creating quality content while executives can establish new opportunities for revenue.”
Dayan tells us about his funding news – and how the funding is helping to change the news online, and how people consume it.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Wibbitz has raised $8M in series B funding led by NantMobile, founded by billionaire physician and entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong and a part of the NantWorks network. Existing investors Horizon Ventures, LoolVentures, Initial Capital and Kima Ventures also participated.
Tell us about your product or service.
Wibbitz provides publishers with a scalable text-to-video platform to quickly increase video inventory and better monetize their content, with pre-roll ad space. It automates broadcast-ready, branded videos for publishers,complete with relevant video clips, photographs, infographics, background music, and voiceover—all within seconds. In the world we live in now, where everyone is on the go, there’s a great deal of value in quick, digestible news content that exists where our consumers want it. Wibbitz is fully optimized for desktop, mobile, social media, and other platforms.
What inspired you to start the company?
I’ve always considered myself a bit of a newsjunkie. I was inspired to start Wibbitz with my co-founder,Yotam Cohen, in college, when I first started reading news, mostly on my iPhone. I realized I was using such a sophisticated device to get news, but was reading it in the same way my grandparents had. I was consuming news in the same way, just on a smaller screen. Our vision was to create a new way to consume news, like having a “play” button to push and get the same information in a more engaging way, on mobile. That’s still our vision today, and the reason we have Wibbitz.
How is it different?
Wibbitz’ capacity for scalability is unparalleled. By automating the video creation process, publishers have the potential to produce more videos in one day than they previously could in an entire month. And we haven’t forgotten about the high standards for quality that publishers hold themselves to. Wibbitz videos feature licensed visual assets from top-tier news sources and are published with HD quality. Publishers maintain editorial control through custom branding and the use of our Control Room, which acts as an editing dashboard. Our text-to-video algorithm learns preferences with use, and anticipates which bits of news are important to an outlet’s audience. It allows publishers to scale their original video operations in a way that has been previously unavailable.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Wibbitz is targeting U.S. publishers as we move our headquarters to the states. We want to empower midsize publishers to produce video content on the same scale as the big guys, but at a fraction of the time and cost. Publishers of any size would benefit from Wibbitz.
What’s your business model?
Our business model is a simple revenue share. Publishers can create and publish as many videos as they would like, and Wibbitz profits from a share of the revenue generated from the video ads run in the videos.
What was the funding process like?
Wibbitz had seen success with first tier publishers in other countries. We had developed the technology platform to become an even easier solution for publishers, and were ready to expand into a new market. We had strong relationships with existing investors Horizon Ventures, LoolVentures, Initial Capital and Kima Ventures, who shared our vision of bringing Wibbitz to U.S. markets. Adding U.S. based NantMobile as our new investor helped us further along in the process and solidified our plan for U.S. expansion.
What’s the most unusual videos that people have created, that you’ve noticed so far?
We’ve seen videos of any and all of the crazy news stories that you read; we even created a Wibbitz video around the press release announcing our latest funding round.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
It’s important to us that the people we develop relationships share a strong passion for what we do. Finding investors who share our vision, but were still open to letting us determine our own path, wasn’t challenging per se, butit was a longer process.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
It’s no secret that newsroom budgets are shrinking in a time where video is an increasingly favored medium for news consumption. Smaller publishers who don’t have the bandwidth (be it personnel, time, or funds) to scale their video inventories can do so with Wibbitz. We level the playing field for all publishers and allow smaller ones to join the media ranks. There’s a need for this technology and Wibbitz is taking advantage of that opportunity. Wibbitz’s software is also flexible and future-proof, so it can be implemented across devices as technology evolves and as publishers expand their reach across new platforms.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We’ve just opened our New York headquarters and are excited to sign on our first U.S. publishers in the coming months. We’re also hiring and building out our New York team, and are in the midst of some exciting conversations that we look forward to sharing with the public in the next couple months.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
In my experience, the most important part of a startup is your team, so focus on finding passionate and invested core employees. Once you have your team built out, the rest falls into place.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We want Wibbitz to become top-of-mind for publishers looking for a cost-efficient way to create premium video.
What’s your favorite NY bar, to kick back and relax on a warm evening?
At the moment, probably any of the bars out on Stone Street, right where our new office is located.