Internet comments are the holy grail of fighting. Whether you see them as lively debaters or desperate trolls, commenters are what drive traffic, eyeballs, and court controversy. Comment sections are where debates happen online, and no other platform has been able to offer users as viable of an outlet, at least not one where they want to be.
Enter, Deeyoon. The Israel-based startup launches today to elevate the level of discourse with its new video debate platform. CEO and co-founder Joe Kalfa calls it a “place where people can engage around issues they really care about,” and no issue is too inconsequential. The site is divided into rooms dedicated to categories like Celebrity, Politics, Technology, Sports, and so on — and topics run the gamut from “Should Mike and Ike get back together?” to “Should Jerusalem remain the undivided capital of Israel?”
Kalfa tells me he had the idea for Deeyoon when he saw that a Justin Beiber YouTube video had amassed millions of comments — some shockingly negative, others showering praise. The passionate argument that followed between these two sides showcased the ability of the Internet to turn us all into opinionated — and loud — experts.
The site officially opens up after its beta testing period to the public, giving everyone the chance to jump in and find topics of interest to them, and to either participate in, watch, or share the debates out to social networks like Twitter and Facebook. It’s a fairly simple concept, which is why it might be surprising that Deeyoon is in fact the first real-time video debate client.
One of the reasons we haven’t had such an application has been bandwidth issues, a problem which has been getting solved very quickly. And while there have been a flood of video startups throwing their hats into the social chat ring, they haven’t had a niche focus on debate. Google Hangouts have arguably done the best job in these regards, and there must be some mention of the ill-fated Airtime and its tragically star-studded launch event. Airtime, in fact, attempted to host a debate using its platform at TechCrunch Disrupt which focused on the startup competition, but the stunt fell apart thanks to some serious glitches.
Deeyoon isn’t only attempting to fill the video debate void. In a few weeks, the platform is going to introduce a plugin it made so that other sites and blogs can grab its technology and implement it into their own posts or comment sections. It’s the evolution of technologies like Disqus and Livefyre, which provide more social commenting systems. Beta testers and those who have gotten an early peek at Deeyoon have had nothing but good things to say about the platform, which is sure to get a nice boost in an election year.
The entire startup is being bootstrapped thanks to Kalfa’s first business endeavor, a dental supply company he started when he was 18. “We’ll hit the venture capital trail eventually but right now — we actually turned down a half a million dollar round,” he tells me. “But I want to hold on to this baby for as long as I can.”