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Vine Co-Founders Finally Discuss Their New App: Hype

A new take on live streaming lets broadcasters insert pre-recorded videos and photos into their streams. But an uphill battle against Facebook and Snapchat awaits.

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When Twitter announced Vine’s death last Thursday, two of the app’s co-founders were getting ready to bring another app, called Hype, to life.

Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll hadn’t officially debuted Hype, a live streaming app that offers a slew of creative tools that competitors, like Periscope and Facebook Live, don’t have. But after privately testing it for three months from their SoHo headquarters in New York City, they figured it was pretty much ready for showtime. So they started broadcasting, official announcement be damned. “What a day today,” Yusupov said as he kicked off the stream. “Heard some news from Twitter. It was kind of a surprise to us.” Within minutes, enough viewers joined the broadcast that it crashed.

When Yusupov and Kroll logged back in and began broadcasting again, they spent the next 36 minutes eulogizing Vine, and in the process showed off what makes watching and broadcasting live streams on Hype so different from the straightforward experience of Periscope and Facebook Live, currently the two social live streaming leaders. The difference is large enough, Hype earned funding from Lightspeed Ventures, though the founders declined to specify how much.

As they broadcasted, the two founders pulled Vine videos from their camera roll and played them on screen, they pinned comments on screen and discussed them, they played full screen videos and overlaid live video of themselves in a circle on top, and then they made the circle disappear entirely. The two played music from their phone in the background and then broadcast themselves fullscreen. It was fun. The inclusion of so much media made the broadcast feel more alive than the typical talk-into-the-camera live stream. Despite the bells and whistles, the broadcast did not feel overly chaotic.

Though Vine will die soon, its product took off thanks to a new format that offered people a simple way to create fun, engaging online video. Hype is built in the same spirit. The two founders, having seen the level of effort people are willing to dedicate to make quality online video, wanted to make something that could inspire the same level of work and creativity in live streaming. They’re giving creators simple tools for making more engaging live broadcasts that do more than simply show what’s in front of the camera.

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“We’ve always been very interested in providing creative tools for storytellers,” Kroll said. “That’s been a guiding light throughout both projects.”

The tech world is, of course, very different from when Vine debuted in 2013. More powerful phones and better connectivity have expanded the range of possibilities for what both app developers and users can create on mobile devices, so a simple short form video app isn’t anything new. “People demand and want more immersive experiences,” Yusupov explained. “As developers, we felt the impulse to start experimenting with these tools and develop new tools that serve people and help them express themselves.”

Another key thing that’s changed since Vine’s debut is the ascendance of Facebook and Snapchat into a position so dominant that other social media companies are having trouble finding breathing room. And since both are going hard in video, making a play in that format especially difficult. Vine is dead; Tumblr is stagnant; and upstarts Peach, Ello, KnowMe, and Yo never took off. And just yesterday, Talkshow, a public messaging app, announced it was scrapping itself too.

And of course, if Hype lives up to its name, Facebook may simply copy its features, as its done to Snapchat (and Vine, in a sense, when it introduced video to Instagram six months after Vine launched). There’s no real answer for a fledgeling social company about how it would fend of such an attack, but Yusupov did his best. “My focus is on making sure that people get the best experience possible,” he said. “If Facebook does decide to adopt some of these norms and some of these new practices, I think that’ll continue to drive demand.”

In the aftermath of Vine’s death sentence, many argued that the platform helped pioneer a new form of online video, one that will live on even after the app’s death. Yusupov and Kroll are hoping Hype will do the same. “Thank god for the guy who created the piano. If it wasn’t for him, Mozart wouldn’t have existed,” Yusupov said. “These mixed media services that we’re building, we’re hoping will inspire new ways of creativity.”

Alex Kantrowitz is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. He reports on social and communications.

Contact Alex Kantrowitz at alex.kantrowitz@buzzfeed.com.

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