Does YouTube Have to Worry about #Waywire?
Nathan Richardson is determined to disrupt YouTube with his startup #waywire, which allows users to organize, share and discover videos from all over the web on one video-focused social network.
"For millennials, conventional television is dead and YouTube is broken," explained Richardson, CEO of #waywire. "If you go to YouTube today and if you search for the song 'Stuck in a Moment' by U2, you're not going to find the official version by U2. You're going to find the karaoke versions. You're going to find the armpit version covers, but you won't find the one that you're looking for."
#Waywire hopes to become the online video hub for millennials, age 18 to 34. The site allows individual users to curate or "wire" the videos that interest them by uploading new content and/or linking to videos from YouTube and Vimeo. Those "wires" form a social network that connects people through their interests in online videos. Like other social networks, #waywire users can tag, follow, share and comment.
Richardson believes #waywire's social platform is what makes it competitive.
"The future of the web is shifting from algorithmically-driven search to a place where the social graph allows for you to follow your trusted sources and leading voices," Richardson said. "That's something that inherently YouTube can't do."
He faces an uphill battle. YouTube, which is owned by Google, still boasts impressive stats, including over 800 million unique users visit each month and 72 hours of video are uploaded to the site every minute. However, recent data supports the market opportunity of merging online video platforms with social networks. According to The Nielsen Company, social networks represent the majority of Americans' time online, with 18 to 34-year-olds being 8 percent more likely than average to visit such sites.
Additionally, online video is poised for massive growth. In 2011, Cisco forecast global consumer Internet video traffic to grow fourfold by 2016.
Online ad dollars are also expected to increase dramatically. Forrester Research predicts U.S. online video ad spending will reach $9.2 billion by 2017. It was $2 billion in 2011.
(Read More: Q&A with #waywire's Nathan Richardson)
But #waywire's battle for eyeballs and ad revenue puts it up against some heavy hitters in the space. Beyond the video giant YouTube, there's also Vimeo and Dailymotion. Combined,Vimeo and Dailymotion have over a hundred million users across the globe.
Still, Richardson's idea, with his co-founders Sarah Ross and Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker, was enough to convince big names like Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, media icon Oprah Winfrey, and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner to back the company.
Mayor Booker said his involvement in the venture was more than just a business deal.
"I'm tired of the voices of everyday people getting lost in the masses and the media being dominated by a small oligarchy." Booker said. "By creating an integrated social system ... [people] can actually become a part of the national conversation in a much better way."
#Waywire has received $1.75 million in seed funding so far and said it will launch in beta within the next 30 days.
—By CNBC's Erin Barry and Marqui Mapp