Skype Founders Name TV Startup Joost

Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis have given a name to their new Internet television startup, which formerly went by the code-name The Venice Project. Now officially dubbed Joost, the company intends to combine a TV-like experience with the flexibility of the Web.

Boasting itself as a "secure, efficient, piracy-proof Internet platform," Joost hopes to lure television networks and content providers to distribute their videos online, although specifics of the technology are still under wraps. What is known is that Joost will make use of peer-to-peer streaming.

Zennstrom and Friis helped pioneer P2P distribution with the file sharing application Kazaa, and later brought that technology to voice and video communication through Skype. The two remain involved in Skype, which was purchased by eBay in 2005.

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If the pair's past projects are any indication, their newest venture should have no trouble being successful. Kazaa was one of the leading P2P networks behind Napster in the early part of the decade, with millions of users. Skype in just three years has amassed over 100 million users worldwide, and is the world's fastest growing online messaging program.

According to reports, Zennstrom will invest in the company, although play a limited role in the overall product. Much of that work would be left to Friis, who would spend a good deal of time developing the business model behind the new service. Neither would be involved in the day to day operations of the company.

Joost is currently in private beta testing, although users can sign-up to join the beta. The software, which plays the television streams as full-screen video, works only on PCs, although the company is working to support the Macintosh platform as well.

"We've received positive and constructive feedback from our early beta-testers and are now at a stage where we're ready to reveal our true brand," said Joost CEO Fredrik de Wahl. "The Joost name has global appeal, embodies fun and energy, and will come to define the 'best of TV and the best of the Internet'."

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