April 17th, 2014 14:24 EST
Louis Gualtieri, Jr. Talks About the Third Coming of ZippCast
On March 1, the internet saw the return of video-sharing site, ZippCast. The website has gained a reputation for not only being a suitable alternative to YouTube due to its similarities to the site`s earlier designs, but also for struggling to stay online. In 2012, the site was closed because an attack by anonymous hackers drove the site costs to unmanageable levels. After some online fund raising and bug fixes, the site resurfaced on February 22, 2013. However, the site was shut down again on June 17 due to server misconfigurations and effects from third party software. After one month online, the site has seen a good level of success with very few issues.
ZippCast is the creation of Louis Gualtieri, Jr., who serves as the CEO of the company at the age of 21. He began the project back in 2008, when he was still attending high school. He and his friends wanted to design a website that provided a free video service for people at his school and within the area, similar to how Facebook was originally made for the students of Harvard. In December 2009, the site launched under the name, ZippTube, " and for the next year, the site experienced a small amount of traffic from people who lived in the area. The traffic died down at the beginning of summer of 2010 when everyone involved with the project graduated and focused on their personal lives. Gualtieri himself spent the summer away from ZippTube with friends and family. As the summer was about to come to a close, Gualtieri decided that it was time to shut ZippTube down, feeling that it had outlived its purpose. However, when Gualtieri logged in, he found that the site had gained thousands of users and video uploads while he was away. Amazed by the site`s newfound popularity, Gualtieri registered the site as a business, which lead to him changing the name to ZippCast to avoid a potential lawsuit.
ZippCast has been seen by many to be the return of old YouTube. "In fact, Gualtieri even tweeted in October 2010 that, the new #youtube is here!" The site`s design is very similar to what YouTube`s design was like back during 2007-2008. The site uses a lot of features that have long been absent on YouTube, including user accounts that are separate from all other digital services, the five-star rating system, highly customizable channels, and a distinct lack of pre-roll ads in videos. For many people who have grown tired of the direction YouTube has been going in, this is a breath of fresh air. Despite the nostalgic throwback, Gualtieri has noted that, we are making things a little more modern to keep things alive. As technology advances, we shall do the same. " So far, the ZippCast player has been modified to support HD videos and to load videos faster than during the previous launches.
In recent times, Gualtieri has had a change of opinion regarding ZippCast being a replication of YouTube in its early years.
The look of the website was intentional at the time, but we have come to realize that shouldn`t be the intention any longer, " Gualtieri stated, Let`s be ZippCast, not YouTube or "Old YouTube.` "
The main intention of ZippCast is to be a video-sharing site that is based on community and content creators. This does seem to be in direct contrast to YouTube, who, in recent years, have favored their larger partners over the average video creator in terms of visibility. This can be seen in the site`s design, where the home page shows what videos are being watched at the moment of visiting, and the video tab allows users to see what videos were uploaded today, last week, etc. These design choices allow any user on the site to, as the slogan says, be seen. " This easier access to the spotlight allows more people to see their videos, which, in turn, allows the uploader and anyone who comments or subscribes to check out each other`s channels, thus creating the community that Gualtieri is striving for.
The site has also tried to differentiate from its competition on a technical level. Gualtieri and his team are currently developing new technologies not used by the other video-sharing websites, such as a new video-delivery service. The site currently uses, as Gualtieri describes, cloud "CDN` content delivery networks with dedicated backbones and DNS load balancing."
So far, the ZippCast userbase is loving the website, and Gualtieri has noted that, the activity is creating an amazing community! " As of April 4, the site sees 3,943 unique visitors per day, 157 daily video uploads, and nearly 884 hours of videos watched per day. We have not seen a major growth of members as we have seen previously, " Gualtieri says, but the activity has increased 4X. "
In terms of the type of people and videos that make up ZippCast, the site has attracted users from ages 16 to 60, 75% which are male, and 35% which are female. The four most popular video categories on the site are Comedy, Gaming, Music, Anime, and Vlogging. Gualtieri deduces that, "the type of content being uploaded here at ZippCast is due to a lot of the heavy content restrictions elsewhere, and the community that is currently here enjoys a lot of music, games, anime, and comedy."
In terms of financial upkeep, the site is currently funded out of pocket and from ad revenue generated by non-intrusive banner ads. Outside of ZippCast, Gualtieri works a day job at an IT for a living. He has also been approached by an unnamed company about investing in the site, which he was open to, considering he has been more open to investors than he was previously. The transfer to the aforementioned CDN content-delivery system has also cut the site`s costs by 75%. It also seems like the banner ads will be the extent of the ads that viewers will see on the site.
"We have no plans to place ads on videos," Gualtieri assures. Videos are the main importance here, and ads on them may steer users away. "
In terms of future developments, the team has new features planned, but they want to work on fixing the site`s bugs before they introduce anything new. Some of the glitches they plan on fixing include getting the playlist feature to work and a few issues with the player itself. On a positive note, they`ve fixed several bugs that have been bugging users since the relaunch, such as thumbnails not loading properly on the video page and the website logging the user out when they click on the inbox icon. The new additions that the team are planning include a channel 2.5 design (known as 2.0 throwback "), on-channel customization, home page customization, added notifications (many of the users have complained about the lack of notifications on things such as comment responses) advanced notification settings, and a video editing portal that will enable the use of annotations, closed captioning, and in-browser video editing.
Will the site be able to stay online and possibly mature into a larger video-sharing site while still maintaining its philosophy on community? Time can only tell what the future holds for ZippCast.
(The primary source of the information was from a Facebook interview with Louis Gualtieri, Jr. on April 6.)
http://thehappyspaceman01.deviantart.com/journal/Apparently-ZippCast-is-gone-382543902 (the only evidence of the second shutdown announcement on the internet. There were comments on the ZippCast Facebook page about not being able to log in on this day.),