Sony’s effort to release “The Interview” on the Web last month ended up shining a spotlight on Crackle , the company’s streaming video service. Crackle grew out of Grouper, the video-sharing company Sony bought in 2006. Here, Grouper founder and CEO Josh Felser takes us behind the scenes from startup to sale. I returned home from Burning Man in 2002, covered in dust and the newbie’s need to show my friends and family the sparkling, desolate wonder of the Playa. I grabbed the SD card from my new Casio camera, stuck it in my Dell PC SD slot, copied all my video (and photos) on to my hard drive, opened up Yahoo Mail, selected a video and hit send. Alas, NFW was Yahoo going to allow a 10 megabyte file to pass through its servers back then. I started researching how to send large files to a private group. Mail didn’t work, FTP was unusable and pirate P2P networks wouldn’t enable connections to ”friends.” I shared my problem with Spinner co-founder, Dave Samuel, and we both quickly saw an opportunity. We pulled in two more co-founders — Mike Sitrin (ex-Spinner employee) and Aviv Eyal (met on Craigslist) — and we started building. Aviv convinced us to add all rich-media types, including music. Grouper was born. We built our own P2P infrastructure that allowed small groups of friends to share their personal media (photos, videos, music). After much debate, we decided, for legal reasons, to limit music sharing to streaming. There was legal precedent for using software to create a virtual living room or house party and thus play music free of any licensing fees
Home / Tech News / Founder of Grouper, now Crackle, tells the story of the company from founding to sale to Sony (Josh Felser/Re/code)
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