Former Hulu execs Jason Kilar and Richard Tom today finally unveiled what they’ve been working on since leaving the online video powerhouse.
Vessel is a new premium video subscription service featuring popular YouTube and Internet stars that will go public early next year.
What makes Vessel unique is that the platform will show new videos a couple days before they publish on YouTube or anywhere else. “The first window for web video,” is how the company describes itself.
Similar to Hulu, viewers can pay $2.99 per month for access to videos with a “modest amount of advertising,” or use a free, ad-supported version where videos will go live after the paid subscribers have a chance to watch.
In a blog post, Kilar explains the thinking behind Vessel.
“We believe in a world where consumers can enjoy top quality content online — a world where creators can build real businesses and take their productions to new heights,” he wrote. “This is why we created Vessel.”
Here’s more on the business model as it pertains to content creators, as Kilar explains how Internet personalities can make more on Vessel than they do on YouTube:
Vessel’s business model (subscription + advertising) will deliver unusually attractive economics for creators, allowing them to pursue their dreams and share ever more ambitious work with their fans. During the early access period on Vessel, we estimate that creators will earn approximately $50 for every thousand views (up to 20x the levels earned from free, ad-supported distribution). After Vessel’s early access period, creators will continue to earn money through distribution of their videos on the free, ad-supported web – on Vessel and anywhere else they choose. Free, ad-supported distribution plays an important role in the future of video, and we do not see that changing. Vessel was created to serve as a critical, missing piece of the puzzle for content creators, with Vessel playing one part among many that collectively help creators achieve their dreams.
For now, Vessel is not available yet to consumers as it continues to recruit content creators. The San Francisco-based startup certainly faces an uphill battle against a beast like YouTube, but Vessel does have $75 million in investment from the likes of Benchmark, Greylock, and Bezos Expeditions, the venture capital arm of Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos.
Both Kilar and Tom have spent time in Seattle, working at companies like Amazon and Microsoft. Kilar worked at Amazon for almost a decade in a variety of positions, writing the first business plan for Amazon’s move into online video, and reporting to Bezos as a senior vice president with the company. Tom worked for years at Microsoft in a variety of development and management roles
Vessel had previously operated under the code name The Fremont Project, a name that paid homage to Seattle’s quirky neighborhood that’s home to Tableau, Impinj, Adobe, GeekWire and Tom’s favorite sandwich shop, Paseo.