Interview: Jason Katz Founder and CEO of Paltalk.com
Jason Katz is the Founder and CEO of Paltalk.com. Jason oversees the strategic direction of Paltalk and also manages the Company’s system architecture. Jason is an authority on instant messaging as well as web based voice and video. Jason has appeared at numerous industry forums as well as on Bloomberg Radio and CNN Radio. Jason previously co-founded MJ Capital, a money management firm. Earlier in his career he was a corporate lawyer at the New York office of Fulbright & Jaworski.
Mr. Jason earned a JD from the New York University School of Law (1988) and a BA in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania (1985).
With Paltalk’s technology, an actor or musician can actually speak to his fans face-to-face and interact with them, take their questions, hear their feedback.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The following Interview is brought to you by ceoworld.biz.
ceoworld.biz: Can you give us a short history of paltalk.com?
Jason Katz: Founded in 1998 and based in NYC, Paltalk is the premier real-time, video-based community bringing together traditional broadcasting media, social networking, user-generated content and video chat. With more than 4 million active users, Paltalk hosts the world’s largest interactive video community, PaltalkScene, offering thousands of users the ability to watch and interact with online video programming, including serialized shows, live events, and user-generated content, as well as interact with each other through real-time voice, text and video chat.
PaltalkScene’s diverse programming includes original shows featuring celebrities, radio personalities and newsmakers such as the radio jocks Opie and Anthony and Diana Falzone. The company also broadcasts live interactive video chat events, such as musical performances and comedy variety shows. Paltalkers can interact with the featured hosts and performers in real-time as well as other members in the room. Recently, Paltalk hosted live broadcasts with famed musician Slash and world-renowned author Stephen King. Paltalk also offers its users the ability to create and share their own user-generated video content with each other and the broader community.
In 2001, Paltalk acquired HearMe, a web-based video conferencing and online collaboration solution targeted at SMB’s, distance learning institutions and corporations. HearMe was relaunched as a business-to-business product in 2007 giving Paltalk not only a great consumer video chat offering but a viable SMB videoconferencing solution as well.
ceoworld.biz: How many employees do you have now?
Jason Katz: 37
ceoworld.biz: We’d like a few words from you about your web 2 meeting strategy and so on (more technical).Jason Katz: From a consumer standpoint PaltalkScene is pioneering a new form of video collaboration we call socialcasting. Through our interactive video platform combining voice, video and text chat capabilities, we are bringing traditional broadcasted content (i.e. movies, concerts, and other live programming) together with elements of social networking and video community to create a completely unique experiences where users can not only interact with live video content but with other viewers. We offer a downloadable client and also Web-based applications for partners and content sites to broadcast live Paltalk programming to its users.
On the SMB side, HearMe empowers businesses and distance educators to participate in fully scalable voice and video conferences. Utilizing H.264 video technology and real time motion of up to 15 frames per second, participants of a HearMe-hosted meeting can share video in addition to documents and desktop applications. With built-in VoIP capabilities, HearMe eliminates the need for a conference phone bridge line, decreasing costs for SMB’s and enterprises alike. This also allows all participants a hands-free conferencing experience. HearMe’s offering enables companies to connect their mobile workforce, distance educators, and organizations to work more efficiently regardless of geographic location.
ceoworld.biz: Beyond web 2 meeting, are other cool features planned?
Jason Katz: We are working on a Flash component for our consumer application, PaltalkScene that will allow users to watch Paltalk’s original programs on any platform or Operating System – including a Mac or with the Firefox web browser.
ceoworld.biz: What key opportunities do you see Paltalk.com? Any killer apps in sight?
Jason Katz: The key element of PaltalkScene is the Screening Rooms, video-enabled chat rooms where users can watch a live or prerecorded video and talk about it with thousands of other people. The viewing experience in the Screening Rooms is that of a “virtual living room.” Think of gathering a group of your friends together to watch a tennis match or a TV show; with Paltalk, you can share that experience with all of your friends, whether they live in Australia or Poland or California, and you can all interact with each other as if you were in the same room.
Another direction we are pursuing is the use of Paltalk as a promotional tool. The interactive elements to PaltalkScene offer movie studios, record labels and television stations looking a new and unique way to promote their talent. With Paltalk’s technology, an actor or musician can actually speak to his fans face-to-face and interact with them, take their questions, hear their feedback. We recently participated in a press junket for the Stephen King film The Mist; people from all over the world logged in to watch Stephen and ask him questions about his latest project. That experience of connecting with fans from anywhere in the world on such an intimate level is something that other outlets can’t match.
Lastly, as far as new applications, we’re also developing a front-end Flash-based interface, including a widget that can be embedded on other sites, like a movie studio’s homepage or even a Facebook or MySpace profile. This will enable viewers to watch shows on any third-party site without downloading the Paltalk software.
ceoworld.biz: What do you consider some of vyew.com’s most exciting successes?
Jason Katz: This year, Paltalk developed a number of original series for PaltalkScene featuring live musical performances, comedy shows, and celebrity interviews, all utilizing the company’s interactive video chat technology. Musical guests have included legendary Guns & Roses guitarist Slash and R&B singer JoJo; members of the casts of hit shows Entourage and Heroes have also appeared on Paltalk’s interview programs. Additionally, Paltalk has teamed with DailyComedy.com to create the successful monthly program, LateNet with Ray Ellin, the first interactive online comedy variety show. LateNet guests have included Chevy Chase, Fran Drescher, Gilbert Gottfried, and Hank Azaria.
ceoworld.biz: What challenges does paltalk.com face as a technology?
Jason Katz: Our technology can be adapted to so many avenues that the biggest challenge we faced was finding appropriate channels to focus on and not going too broad. As a business, it’s important to stay profitable, but as a social media service, we want to provide our users with the best experience possible. We knew that our platform was unique and could be applied in many different ways, so we have put a lot of thought into where we want to take Paltalk and what kind of content we want to offer. We’ve come up with a platform that uses our patented technology to provide Paltalkers a viewing experience they can’t get anywhere else.
ceoworld.biz: How paltalk.com is different from other providers of same technology?
Jason Katz: Unlike other Web 2.0 sites that have social networking, online video, or chat/IM components, PaltalkScene has all three of these tools in one platform and offers users the ability to watch LIVE programming in real time. Essentially our ability to provide a video-viewing environment, where thousands of simultaneous members can view the content and interact with each other, is truly unique. This combination allows us to use our technology in innovative ways and provide a unique entertainment experience that lets viewers interact with content and with each other.
ceoworld.biz: What do you recommend to people who are new to your site?
Jason Katz: New Paltalk users should take the time to explore the site. There are thousands of chat groups, shows, and programs that Paltalkers can actively participate in or simply sit back and watch. The subjects span from politics to day trading to relationships to comedy. Whatever you want to watch or talk about, you can find it on our platform – and if you can’t, you can create your own show or group.
ceoworld.biz: How does paltalk.com make money?
Jason Katz: Paltalk allows users to download the PaltalkScene application for free. There are many free components, but the ability to view other members on their webcams is a subscription service.
ceoworld.biz: What are your goals for 2007 through 2008?
Jason Katz: Our goal for the rest of this year and into 2008 is just to continue building on our platform and our success with our content. Paltalk has hosted a number of shows and chats with high-profile guests, and we are looking to bring more top talent to our viewers and provide our members with the best possible experience.