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Joost gives up the ghoost

Tries business model 3.0

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Joost, the mostly harmless internet TV service created by the founders of Skype and Kazaa, is hoping the third business model is the charm.

The company said Tuesday it will shift focus from ad-supported video to making "white label video platforms" for media companies. While Joost will continue to provide free online television and movies on its website, it hopes to drum up much-needed revenues by licensing its technology to cable and satellite providers as well as broadcasters and video aggregators.

"Media companies around the world are embracing internet-based video portals as a key path to distribute their premium video, but building a world-class video portal is increasingly difficult and expensive," Joost said in a statement. "Joost will focus on this issue and provide the market with a cost-effective, end-to-end solution for media companies to publish video under their own brands."

Under the new plan, Joost is ousting veteran chief executive Mike Volpi in favor of Matt Zelesko. In addition to helming the business, Zelesko will continue his job as Joost's lead engineer, the company said. Prior to Joost, Zelesko was vice president of engineering at Comcast. Meanwhile Volpi will remain chairman of the board.

The company also intends to slice operations down to a "core team" in New York and London. It's unclear exactly how many workers there will lose their job in the reshuffle. "Unfortunately, as part of this change, we will say goodbye to many of our colleagues and friends," wrote Volpi on the company blog.

"This is obviously disappointing and sad - it's never easy saying goodbye to coworkers, especially when people have poured so much of their time, talent, effort and emotion into a company."

Joost was launched by the Skype boys, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, in 2007 amidst a blaze of publicity over the founders and the supposedly revolutionary P2P technology behind it. But the service never caught on, largely due to a lack of premium content and users not wanting to download a separate client to view online telly.

The website eventually reinvented itself as browser-based video service - but it was too late by then. When Sony Pictures decided against renewing its contact with Joost in April, it was clear the website had become an afterthought to media congloms behind bigger names like YouTube and Hulu. ®

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