January 20, 2009

Could Sundance Do for Qik What SXSW Did for Twitter?

By Jesse Stay of Stay N' Alive (Twitter/FriendFeed)

As a Salt Lake City, Utah resident, one of the most prevalent events of the year happens around the Sundance film festival. While not quite an event for Tech Geeks, the festival has become more and more techie as film geeks have begun to converge with computer geeks and find new ways to present the media they are creating. I visited Sundance last night and was amazed at the number of former film geeks trying to create their own web ventures as the economy slims for the film industry.

Just last Saturday, one example of this convergence of new media with old happened with a project founded by Kevin Rose, funder of Digg.com and Revision3, and Ashton Kutcher, famous celebrity actor, filmmaker, and director (and host of MTV's "Punk'd"). While I'm a bit disappointed no Utah bloggers were selected (considering it was in our state after-all), Rose and Kutcher selected 4 major bloggers, including Venturebeat's Matt Marshall from all across the nation to compete in a 24 hour competition, broadcast live on the service Qik.com. The bloggers were asked to perform such tasks as building an igloo and making a snow theater, or getting Mahalo's Jason Calacanis to say the words, "Mahalo", "Shitzu", and "Tesla". While entertaining to watch, the amazing story of this all were the statistics shared by Qik's founder Bhaskar Roy about the success of Qik during the competition.

In this behind-the-scenes video by Kevin Rose, Roy shares that, in just the less than 12 hours since the competition started, over 100 thousand video producers subscribed to the service. Roy was sitting at the headquarters of the competition, working to keep the site up and running as they broadcast the show out to what would appear to be near millions. While Roy wouldn't share page view statistics, with that many sign-ups one has to imagine page view statistics were through the roof, and that was made evident as I noticed Qik transferring some of the competition's videos over to YouTube during the event.

One of the biggest advents 2 years ago at South-by-Southwest 2007 was the prevalent use of Twitter and its strong growth, promotion, and use during the event. It was during that event that Twitter took off like wildfire, and became the explosive network we all know about today. It was later that year that I joined Twitter, and it has only kept growing since. Today it is estimated that Twitter has close to 4-5 million users and is growing exponentially. With numbers like Roy mentions, one can't help but speculate that Qik is not far behind those statistics.

I contacted Qik and they weren't willing to expand further on these results, but it will be interesting to see if Rose or Kutcher share more results of this competition and whether or not it was a success in and of itself. One thing we can say however is that regardless of the competition, Qik may have just had its South-by-Southwest moment here at the Sundance film festival.

The video in full is posted below - Roy's comments are right around 1:03.

Read more by Jesse Stay at Stay N' Alive.