Please note: this post includes graphical depictions of violence and torture.
I've just come off a hastily arranged Skype call with Cyrille de Lasteyrie - a.k.a. Vinvin - VP of Seesmic inc. Alongside Loic Le Meur, Vinvin is one of the co-founders of Seesmic, an invitation-only video blogging community looking set to become a serious force in 2008.
Loic's just published a tidy summary of the story of Seesmic so far, including details of how they've managed to raise $6 million in initial funding. All this with a user-base of little more than a 1,000 viewers, and approximately 200 regular contributors, of which I am one. [UPDATE 15/03/08: Turns out these stats are way out of date - Vinvin has been kind enough to post the latest figures in a comment on this post. 8,000 viewers, 800 very active!]
I first spoke to Vinvin a couple of weeks back, after emailing Loic to find out about opportunities for PPC to promote films within Seesmic. I had one particular campaign in mind, and even went so far as to outline a couple of ideas we were playing around with. I wasn't looking for any explicit endorsement; equally I didn't want to act without giving them the heads-up. Vinvin promptly gave me his blessing, and he was kind enough to throw in a few invitation codes for good measure.
A few days later a new member joined the Seesmic community, going under the name of Sharpeshooter. This was one of his first posts:
In the days that followed Sharpeshooter posted a few dozen times, initiating some discussions and contributing to others, touching on everything from politics to prostitution.
Just before last weekend, Sharpeshooter went quiet.
On tuesday the following clip appeared, posted using his account:
This was just two days ago. The following morning, the hooded figure was back:
Then, last night, Sharpeshooter suddenly reappeared, albeit under duress:
All through last night and this morning clips like this appeared within the public timeline. Then, at around 6pm this evening, the situation started to change rapidly. The clips were posted, about 30 minutes apart:
It was at this point that I received a very polite email from Vinvin, asking if I could jump into Skype for five minutes...