Mike Volpi was rumored to be the new CEO of Joost for quite a while, and the company confirmed the news today. We had a chance to catch up with Volpi, one of the rising stars at Cisco Systems, and talked to him about his decision, and his plans for Joost, a P2P video company started by Skype co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström that recently raised $45 million in funding from investors such as Sequoia Capital.
According to a report in The New York Times, Joost now has half-a-million subscribers, and over 100 employees. Here are excerpts from an interview conducted earlier today.
OM: Mike, you were one of the rising stars at Cisco. Why leave, and why decide on Joost?
Mike Volpi: Routers are great, but can’t do it forever and I wanted to get on the ground floor of something unique. I never thought myself as the router guy, and had broader interests. I come from the infrastructure side but I hate to pigeonhole myself.
I had a lot of things come my way, but Joost interested me the most. I have known Niklas and Janus for a while, and was excited about what they were doing with Joost. I think great companies are built when the market opportunity comes together with a great team. That is Joost.
OM: Why do you think the time is right for Joost?
MV: I think there are three things that have come together. Content owners have realized what happened to the music industry and have embraced the Internet. I think that combined with broadband, and the P2P technology platform.
OM: Joost isn’t the only online video player in the running – and there are many options out there. So why should we think Joost will win.
MV: Joost is not YouTube and Joost is not Apple iTunes. What Joost is – a service that delivers high quality ad-supported long form produced video content in a secure manner using a cost-effective delivery platform. Bringing these three pieces (long form video content, advertising and delivery platform) together is going to be hard and not everyone is going to be able to do it. No one has it packaged together like Joost.
OM: Is lack of upstream bandwidth and the current debate around network neutrality of concern to you? After all some of your offerings will compete with the TV offerings of cable and phone (IPTV) companies.
MV: The way our system is designed I don’t think upstream bandwidth is going to be a problem. It is designed along the lines of BitTorrent.
On the issue of network neutrality, we have a totally legitimate service and the carriers shouldn’t have a reason to block us. I don’t think the regulatory environment (in US and elsewhere) will allow for the blocking of competitors to the carriers. (*)
OM: Is there a chance we will see Joost on AppleTV?
MV: We would love to put Joost on the Apple TV platform. We know we can make it run on any operating system.
[* Ed. Note: We have experienced severe quality loss so we do think upstream is going to be an issue going forward.]