In the booming market for question and answer services, the conversational platform created by VYou is unique. Like Formspring, it is a place for users to receive questions and post answers. But on VYou the answers come in video form.
Vyou relies less on scale and accuracy, like Quora or Stack Exchange. Instead it draws on personality and intimacy, giving fans a platform for connecting with figures as varied as Deepak Chopra and Courtney Love.
VYou announced today that it raised a $3 million series A round from some great New York names. The round was by RRE Ventures and Highland Capital Parnters, with participation from local angels like Rick Webb and David Tisch and Hollywood heavyweights like Kevin Wall and Jim Wiatt.
“We’re going to be investing in the product and hiring a lot on the tech side,” says Founder Steve Spurgat. “It would be great if you could put that in the title of your article,” he joked.
While a lot of VYou is driven by individual personalities and the draw of interacting with a celebrity, the site also features channels with dedicated themes. The Fix, for example, collects medical professional who specialize in addiction and mixes them in with former strippers and recovery gurus.
“It’s certainly up for debate whether this is a social network,” says Spurgat. “Do you need bi-directional communication to be a social network? VYou allows fans to follow celebrities, but we also see people using the platform to keep in touch with friends and family.”
A lot of the channels are platforms for brands, like Simon and Schuster and The Daily Beast. It’s interesting to see that the structure for engaging with the audience seems to be more important the the brands presence on the web. Simon & Schuster uses VYou for Ask the Author, and has dozens of questions posted each day. The Daily Beast hasn’t had a new question posted in almost two months.
Since launching in November VYou has served up 20 million video views and scored partnerships with some big names like MTV and Hearst. “The social web has revolutionized every form of media it has touched — photos, news, location — but not yet video,” says Dan Nove, General Partner at Highland. “A massive opportunity awaits the first person to build an actual social network around video, which is the most engaging medium of all.”
“It’s a YouTube, Twitter, Formspring hybrid that acts kinda like a community site, where people ask questions, like Formspring, but you answer in a one shot video you can’t edit,” said A Guy Named Raf, who is VYou’s most prolific poster. “I’m somewhat famous on an internet site that isn’t really big right now and has no relevance in life, but I love it, ok, don’t judge me,” said Scott, aka Ask This Trucker, the site’s biggest homegrown star.
VYou isn’t big time yet, but its now got the funding and connections to jump to the next level.