A Q&A with Plizy founder and CEO Jonathan Benassaya. The San Francisco–based company was founded in 2011 and closed a $4 million Series A funding round in mid-December from Atlas Venture.
SUB: Please describe Plizy and your value proposition.
Benassaya: Plizy is the media center in the cloud that allows users to search, organize, watch, and share any video content that is available online from dozens of video services including Amazon Prime, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, Dailymotion, HBO Go, Hulu, Hulu+, iTunes, Netflix, Vimeo, and YouTube. Plizy aggregates more than 550,000 movies, 200,000 shows and 100,000,000 videos from the major video services, making it the most comprehensive database available on the market.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Benassaya: Plizy is really for anyone who wants an easy way to search, organize, watch and share content. We are trying to solve the fragmentation problem and allow viewers to watch content when and where they want through one simple platform.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Benassaya: Plizy’s deep personalization and large directory makes it unique from other video aggregating sites.
SUB: Can you name some companies you consider to be competition?
Benassaya: Fanhattan and Matcha.
SUB: What differentiates Plizy from the competition?
Benassaya: Plizy is unique to other content viewing sites in that it offers a 100 percent personalized viewing platform and brings friends into the viewing experience, rather than just a search directory of content. With Plizy, users can send feedback directly by rating and liking content. This way Plizy evolves with a user’s feedback and interests. Plizy also helps users watch content tailored to them by showing them which of their friends have watched and liked a particular video. Plizy also offers access to all types of video content, as opposed to just UGC [user-generated content] or paid content.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Benassaya: The first version of Plizy was launched in 2011 to understand the relationship between viewing content and the social graph better. We’ve been able to construct an entertainment graph with more than one billion items in order to build our recommendations and create user clusters. Our objective was to be able to identify people with the same tastes in order to optimize our content recommendations. Since then, the app has been featured four times in the app store as well as in the top ten downloads in the entertainment category within many countries.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Plizy? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Benassaya: I found that the amount of video choices available both online and from cable providers gave me more than enough content to watch, but was often overwhelming and difficult to sift through. I founded Plizy in order to transform and change how content is viewed by offering frictionless access to any video content—no matter what provider it comes from.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Benassaya: Our mission is to help people get access to the video entertainment that they want, when they want. The name Plizy is derived from the pleasure and easiness a user gets from having to use this hassle-free service.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Benassaya: When we initially started Plizy, our team was based in both Paris and San Francisco which created natural challenges. Now that our whole team is based in San Francisco, it has been so much easier to have collaborative innovation and build the future of Plizy.
SUB: What did it take to negotiate content deals with these various content sources?
Benassaya: We first explain to them our vision and why what we are building is going to help their users and their service. In the meantime, we need to demonstrate that any integration with them is going to be seamless so that they don’t need to put any resources on the table. Everybody is ready to experiment as long as it doesn’t cost anything. That’s our job.
SUB: You recently raised $4 million in Series A funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Benassaya: With the new round of funding, Plizy will focus on expanding its audience, aggregating more content from providers such as Cinemax, Snagfilm, and Starz, and building out our offerings across multiple platforms—specifically on iOS and Android.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise more funding?
Benassaya: It’s all about meeting the right people at the right time. It’s been a while since Fred Destin [of Atlas Venture] and I have worked together, but after meeting and discussing this new venture, Plizy just seemed like the right project to work on together.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Benassaya: We are currently focused on building our product to address the online video market—a market of more than $50 billion in revenue. In the same time, we are building a platform with a lot of data and we are just at the beginning of our venture.
SUB: What are your goals for Plizy over the next year or so?
Benassaya: Our goal is to become the service of choice when it comes to searching and discovering video entertainment. Building out our service for iOS and Android will help us get there.
Plizy – www.plizy.com