Rheo, a digital video startup founded by former Apple exec Alan Cannistraro, has named a new key hire as well as several content partners as it aims to build a platform that delivers short-form content in a way that mimics old-school channel surfing.
Cannistraro is a Silicon Valley veteran who was a key architect behind the iBooks and iTunes U apps at Apple before joining Facebook, where he helped develop Autoplay video as well as the social network’s Year In Review feature.
Rheo, which launched in beta roughly six months ago, presents viewers with a personalized video feed in which content is delivered according to mood. Rather than hunting down specific clips, as on YouTube or Netflix, Rheo presents a lean-back experience with six total channels: ‘Move’ for an endorphin rush, ‘Learn’ for educational content, ‘Laugh’ for comedy, ‘Inform’ for news, ‘Spark’, featuring artists, designers, and musicians, and ‘Chill’ for music. Users simply swipe to move on to the next video, and an algorithm gradually adjusts to one’s predilections over time.
“Rheo intuits the way that users want to interact with content,” Cannistraro tells Tubefilter. “My belief is that we need to take away as much of the decision-making as possible for users to get to what they want.” In terms of monetization, Rheo could eventually vend ads, subscriptions, or even à la carte viewing, he says, though the service is still in its nascent stages.
Exclusively available as a free Apple TV app — a web iteration and iOS app are slated for May — Rheo closed a $2.3 million seed round last August, and has since announced content deals with Vimeo and Refinery29. The majority of its videos, Cannistraro says, are sourced from Facebook — all which are curated in-house by the Rheo team. Other deals with premium publishers as well as digital influencers are currently in the works.
And in order to shore up its content offer, Rheo has added to its fleet of 10 employees with the hire of entrepreneur Natalie Diver as its new head of content. Diver, who officially joined Rheo in November, is also the CEO of Boss Babe, a digital lifestyle brand for business-minded millennial women.