6rounds' Video Conferencing Outchats Chatroulette & TinyChat

Tinychat and its naughty cousin Chatroulette have taken a stab at building direct video-based communication platforms, but neither has built as robust a product as 6rounds. Israeli-based founders Dany Fishel and Ilan Leibovich  think that video conferencing needs a lot of bells and whistles to not only attract visitors, but provide enough stickiness to extend the length of time visitors spend on the site.

While social media guru Robert Scoble describes 6Rounds as "what would happen if Zynga and Chatroulette met and had a baby," it's really much more than that. 6Rounds is essentially a live meeting point that incorporates real-time video chat and a host of additional 'sharing' experiences. There are a number of layers that users can engage in on a one-on-one basis. Sharing can take the form of co-browsing YouTube to play games...

Add funny effects to live video conferencing like this cartoon bomb graphic…

You can also interact on Facebook and all your other favorite social networks. The platform is integrated with the Open API and widgets can be easily added into third-party Web sites, as well as plug-ins for WordPress. You can communicate and collaborate with your friends and followers or meet new people that share a user's common interest. This 2-minute vid provides you with just a sampling of the features which are continually added to the service.

While a monetization model doesn't presently exist with Chatroulette and whereas Tinychat relies strictly on advertising and premium features, 6rounds has put together a business model that is as robust as its service.

There are essentially four different revenue streams for 6rounds:

  • 1- Users can purchase virtual and real gifts (think ringtones, MP3s) and send them to other users during the video experience.
  • 2- Users can personalize their video experience by purchasing customized skins and choosing different applications for private arenas (unique games, targeted extensions and special activities).
  • 3- Affiliate fees from e-commerce majors: from music, movies, TV shows and books through the personal profile slide-shows to a dedicated co-shopping experience in a variety of online retail stores. 6rounds aims to earn revenue shares from these transactions and allow other developers to tap into this stream by means of the Open API.
  • 4- Advertising, licensing and product placement: the company at a later stage intends to offer advertisers licensed versions of 6rounds as well the ability to insert video advertising units within the layers (e.g. sponsored gifts, targeted activities, and promoted themes).

The company also closed a seed investment of $1 million, led by Rhodium Investment Group and followed by private angel investors from the Israeli Startup Factory group, who previously invested $350K (November 2008), with another $150K back in February '08 from family and friends.

Robert Scoble interviewed the founders of 6rounds on May 8 at a Tel Aviv hotel - a year after their first visit to Google's I/O Conference in 2009.

The Developer Sandbox, first introduced at I/O 2009, is the demo area at Google I/O where they showcase a wide range of developers who have built applications based on technologies and products featured at I/O. Invited back again this year, 6rounds created a Google Wave extension which enables Wave users to experience instant one-on-one video chats while collaborating together in real-time using webcams and a number of interactive games.

6rounds at Google Developer Sandbox 20106rounds at Google Developer Sandbox 2010

6rounds has certainly catapulted video conferencing into the 21st Century, and I personally look forward to the new enhancements they will be adding later this year when Google Wave becomes more of a reality in all of our lives.