Los Angeles Business Journal

Supernova, Successor to Viddy, Sold to Fullscreen

By Tom Dotan Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Venice video app maker Supernova, which began its life as Viddy, was acquired today by YouTube network Fullscreen.

Terms of the deal were not announced.

Fullscreen, the Culver City network with backing from Chernin Group and Comcast, will be taking on all 12 of Supernova’s employees. In an interview with the Business Journal, Fullscreen Chief Executive George Strompolos outlined a number of reasons behind the move, not least of which was bringing on a team of developers with experience in the mobile space.

"This is an insanely good team, really the strongest mobile development team I've ever encountered," Strompolos said.

But beyond just a straight acqui-hire, he's also interested in the infrastructure Supernova built with the Viddy app. Although Strompolos said Fullscreen would continue to support Viddy along with Supernova's other products, he hinted that the app could also provide the foundation for future Fullscreen products.

As streaming video shifts more to mobile devices, many of the YouTube networks have been eyeing an opportunity to free themselves from their dependence on the platform. Traditionally, these companies have made money by aggregating YouTube channels and selling advertising against the content.

Strompolos envisions a slate of new Fullscreen mobile apps that can both distribute video and let others create and share. With the Supernova acquisition, Fullscreen is also offering glimpses on how it's going to rebrand itself.

"This was about our transition from a service based company into a full-fledged media company," Strompolos said. "We intend to produce more and more content and be a distributor of that content."

For Supernova, the acquisition is a somewhat deflating exit for a company that once topped the app download charts and was a founding entry in the short-form social video space. At Viddy’s height in 2012, the app, which let users shoot and post videos of 30-seconds or less, had more than 27 million members. That May it raised a $30 million series B round valuing the company at an eyebrow-raising $370 million.

The app was one of the biggest beneficiaries of Facebook’s open-graph era, when the social network let apps automatically post content onto users’ News Feeds. But Facebook later switched up its policies, sending Viddy and similar social video apps out of view and on a downward spiral from which they never recovered. It’s worth noting that SocialCam, one of Viddy’s early competitors in the space, was acquired soon after the News Feed rejiggering for $60 million.

At the end of 2012, Viddy’s chief executive left the company and the company returned most of its venture capital funding.

The company tried a turnaround last year under new Chief Executive J.J. Aguhob. It rebranded as Supernova and announced a pair of new products: Epic, a slow-motion video app, and Clique, a Snapchat-like messaging and doodling app.

"Our mission continues to be helping people create and share amazing content using elegant technology,” Aguhob said in a release. “Together with Fullscreen, we will create mobile video products that millions of users enjoy."