August 27, 2015 Last Updated 1:49 pm

First Look: Hyper, new iPad app aggregates third party video content into a digital magazine

The new company behind the app, AntiHero Inc., has received seed money from a group of investors led by Advancit Capital, an investment firm that had previously backed Circa News, Oyster, and other digital start-ups

The video magazine app Hyper launched yesterday, getting a write up on TechCrunch among other tech sites. The very nicely designed iPad app is the product of a group of four filmmakers and journalists who have received $1.1 million in funding from a group of investment firms including led by Advancit Capital.

Hyper-2-iPadThe app presents a collection of curated videos, all hosted on YouTube of Vimeo.

“We’ve all gotten caught in the YouTube rabbit hole, the endless Netflix browsing, and the infinite barrage of trending clickbait but that’s nowhere near the best way to experience the most interesting new content the web has to offer,” said Markus Gilles, the founder of the company behind Hyper, AntiHero Inc., in the press release for the app launch. “We built Hyper to separate the signal from the noise and simply offer the best of the newest everyday.”

That a video aggregation app would be considered worthy of over a million in seed funding may be the real story here, as the app does not contain original content, but rather puts an expertly designed wrapper on the work of others. One assumes the team at Hyper get the permission of the content owners to use the video pieces, but may be they do not need to since most media outlets let others embed their videos on the web.

“With the rapid increase of web videos created every day, content overload has become a real problem,”
said Jason Ostheimer, Partner at Advancit Capital. “By distilling the newest videos from around the web to a top-quality daily shortlist, Hyper is positioning itself as the must-have video app that everyone is still waiting for.”

Advancit Capital has backed a number of start-ups in the digital space including Circa News which shutdown in June, and the eBook platform Oyster. It also backed the app based cooking magazine Panna (here is TNM’s original write-up from November 2012), so they are obviously a company supporting digital publishing efforts. (Maybe I should call on them with an investment opportunity, no?) One of the partners is Jonathan Miller, the former Chief Digital Officer and CEO of the Digital Media Group at News Corp.

Hyper-introAggregation apps were all the craze when the iPad App Store first was opened, many running into troubles with copyright. Video content is a bit different in that so much of it is hosted on YouTube and other sites that allow sharing of content.

The free app itself is very well done, from its home page design, its video information slide-out, to its menu which allows you to get access to archived editions and learn more about Hyper. It requires the reader to have a live Internet connection, however (as you can see in the slideshow below), but that works to keep the file size down so readers don’t have to wait to access the editions (unlike so many digital magazines from publishers).

The head-scratcher for me remains the business model. Neither the other articles on the app, nor the press release, explain how they plan to make money from the digital video magazine. That wouldn’t be an issue if the app came from a group of developers who just wanted to build a nice app, but this one has the backing of investors (though $1.1 million is a modest amount as start-ups go).

Maybe that will come later assuming the app gains some traction with iPad owner.

Gilles-200Markus Gilles, the founder of the company and a Berliner, had previously launched a company called Awkward which produced a video app. That app, Blur, is still in the App Store and can be found under the developer account name of red cyan GmbH. (Blur has an interesting marketing slogan: “Watch Blurred Videos Of People Confessing Stuff!”)

The other three members of the team behind the new company and the Hyper digital magazine app are Jonas Brandau, UX designer and filmmaker; Andreas Pursian, the company’s CTO; and Mathias Sauvestre, an iOS developer.

Whether Hyper can attract an audience is hard to say, but with some seed money in its bank account it probably has the time to try and find out. Panna is still inside the App Store and surviving. But it launched charging a subscription, so one understood immediately the business model. Hyper’s road to success may be a mystery right now, but unless Gilles burns through his seed money quickly, we should learn more within the next year.

[tribulant_slideshow gallery_id=”67″]

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