Verizon likes video, but Vessel has been working on a non-video product, too
Verizon is in advanced discussions to acquire mobile video startup Vessel, according to people familiar with the talks.
Vessel is best known as the company founded by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar. Vessel launched in March 2015, and wanted to become a hub for YouTube stars to reach super-fans.
But the company was unable to sign many of YouTube’s biggest stars, who stayed on with Google’s video site, and the company has struggled to find traction with users.
Video industry insiders have speculated for months that Vessel, which has raised more than $130 million from backers including Benchmark and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, would find a buyer.
People familiar with Vessel say the company has been working on a new product that would represent a pivot from its original plan. One person who has been briefed on the product described it as “Snapchat-like,” with image filters and other features.
Verizon has made multiple pushes into video in recent years. In 2014, it acquired the assets of OnCue, Intel’s failed attempt at a streaming TV service. Last year it launched Go90, its own mobile service aimed at young users; people in and outside of Verizon say that service hasn’t worked, and Verizon is retooling it for a second attempt.
Verizon has also said that video is one of the main reasons it spent around $9 billion acquiring AOL, then Yahoo in the last year.
Both Kilar and a Verizon rep declined to comment.