Sitting in the Hotel Vendome bar with Andy Grignon, a man whose title ‘fuckchop’ at Apple comes second in awesome-ness only to his position as one of the original iPhone team members, the phrase ‘moving the needle’ comes up quite a lot. I met with Andy during LeWeb in December to discuss his most recent platform, Eightly, which allows “regular people to create channels.” Grignon had pitched the product on stage at LeWeb the previous day with Robert Scoble (his pitch starts at 15:00 here), but I wanted to get to know the man behind the cards a little better.
The product itself is built on the concept of ‘cards.’ Grignon says that when he originally pitched investors about the product, in lieu of a real pitch, he brought a deck of cards, in order to convey how simple the product would be. It allows users to create ‘channels’ (think Apps, but not Apps) using dynamic content from various sources (Instagram, Twitter, etc.), following a not-so-complex set of rules defined by the platform.
The idea, of course, is to make building ‘channels’ as easy as playing a game of cards. The ability to follow channels, whether they be of my best friend’s wedding (with official photographer photos mixed in with Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram photos with a given hashtag, of course) means that anytime my best friend wants to show off his wedding photos, or put them on display, he only needs to open up that channel in the Eightly app to have a dynamic, beautiful viewing experience.
The Future of Connected TV
In addition to working on tablet & phone, the platform is particularly well adapted for the Connected TV. The former Apple team member hinted that Apple will have something a bit more appealing than the Apple TV coming out around next March – perhaps the Connected TV everyone has been waiting for – and said that Eightly will be betting big on Apple & Android (Samsung connected TV, anyone?).
Grignon said that much of his inspiration for Eightly came from TV. Watching TV shows on ESPN, Grignon was fascinated by the ticker feeds that ran underneath and on the side of the screen, and those very features are built right into Eightly, where users can have rolling ticker feeds of Tweets about Rude Baguette, for example, while photos, articles or other content appear on the main screen.
“I’m addicted to creating platforms”
As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, the term ‘moving the needle’ came up quite a lot. Grignon comes from a nearly ancient generation (in Internet years, at least) where entrepreneurs started with Big Problems (capital B, capital P); which isn’t to say anything of his age (his boyish face pins him somewhere between 16 & 56), but merely that I knew 5 minutes into the conversation that, regardless of the future of Eightly, Grignon will never build “Another way to buy sunglasses,” as he put it.
Looking at the small picture, Eightly is a platform deeply embedded into one of the potential leaders for the future of connected TV, developing tools to democratize the creation & curation of what we now call TV channels.
Looking at the big picture, Eightly has taken an infinitely complex coding language and wrapped it in vernacular that my nieces & nephews could understand, essentially enabling anyone to build multi-platform (both in operating system and in screen size) applications with an unlimited access to content.
No matter how big or how small you choose to see things, Eightly is poised to move the needle. The product isn’t set to launch until early 2014, and I think that’s around the time I’ll be planning to buy a new TV, too.
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