The mega sale of online video sharing site YouTube to Google for $1.65 billion was a source of motivation for Jeremy Kossen, a young American Jewish entrepreneur from California, who yesterday launched JewTube, the Jewish version of YouTube. Kossen, who is in Israel to attend the ROI Global Summit for Young Jewish Innovators, spoke to "Globes" about the concept behind JewTube and why it's possible to be successful without re-inventing the wheel.
Born in San Francisco to secular Jewish parents, Kossen has visited Israel a number of times. He contemplated immigrating to Israel, but appears to have postponed this dream for the time being. "I always wanted to immigrate to Israel, but because of my business commitments right now, it'll be some time before it actually happens."
From Hollywood to high-tech
After holding a number of positions with high-tech companies, Kossen decided to go it alone. He established Altruity Funding, a company that helps people in Califonia raise loans to buy apartments and commercial centers. "I'm making good money," was the only statement Kossen was willing to make about his personal wealth. He claims that the good money he is making with the company, which employs six people, has enabled him to breathe life into the JewTube venture. "I've been working on this for close to two years," he says. He got the idea to use the YouTube concept to create a forum for posting video clips with a Jewish connection with the name JewTube from "GodTube," the evangelical Christian response to YouTube. "For me it was obvious that we needed to provide a Jewish response to this. I was motivated to create something that will serve Jewish communities as well."
Kossen adds that the effect of "Online video sharing communities" will have an ever increasing impact. Industry sources in the US are talking in terms of a market share that will outstrip that of the leading television networks. "The YouTube of today in the communities field, is what CBS was in the 1950s in television networks," says Kossen.
No legal problem
Globes: The JewTube concept has been copied from YouTube. Are there likely to be any legal problems?
Kossen: "We checked it out legally. The lawyers told us that as long we maintain certain rules, such as a different logo and differentiation of niches, there's no problem legally. We also contacted Google and the response we got was positive. That may have been because their owners are Jewish."
Will JewTube limit itself to Jewish content only?
"The content will be diverse but it will have to be connected in one form or another with Judaism in the broad sense of the word: religion, education, culture and so on."
Do you expect any advertising revenue?
"We're not expecting any profit in the beginning. We'll be focusing primarily on video content. We hope to see advertising revenue from the second quarter."
Do you believe that you'll make an exit?
"It's still too early to talk about it, but I believe it's possible. My dream is to make an exit at $100 million.
Are there any business reasons for your presence at the conference?
"I came because I'm interested in meeting young Jewish entrepeneurs from around the world. I want to meet as many of these as possible, and listen, learn, and get to know them. From the business aspect, it helps networking and the developing of contacts. On a personal level, I haven't been here for 14 years and I wanted to see what's changed."
Kossen is among dozens of successful young Jewish innovators, whose activities touch the Jewish people, who have gathered this week for the Global Summit for Young Jewish Innovators, which is being held on July 2-5 in Jerusalem. ROI is a partnership between the Center for Leadership Initiatives, which was founded by philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, and Taglit-birthright Israel.
Schusterman said, "The aim of the summit is to promote innovation in the global Jewish community. Our goal is to support these young leaders as individuals and as a global community."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on July 3, 2007
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2007