Cisco buys stake in Shekhar Kapur-AR Rahman social media company Qyuki
Goutam Das February 16, 2012Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur is a social media enthusiast. Along with AR Rahman, he has co-founded a social media company 'Qyuki', which he says would have a distinctive Indian flavour. The firm would "unlock the creative potential of Indians"; it would use crowdsourcing to develop a story, progress an animation idea or even create and distribute music. Technology firm Cisco has picked up a minority stake in the firm. Kapur spoke to Business Today on the sidelines of the Nasscom summit.
Tell us about Qyuki and what it seeks to achieve.
It is a social media platform that would seek to crowd source creative ideas. A series of provocation points would lead to crowd-sourced stories; people can put out animation ideas and by the time one wakes up in the morning the next day, 100 more people can alter the idea.
How did you get to start the company? What interested Rahman?
I took the idea to Rahman and asked how about unlocking the creative potential of people, which is what he is doing with his music school. What about doing it in a much bigger way? Music and storytelling can go together; so can videos and music. He was fascinated by the idea - can creativity be crowd-sourced? Content can be curated initially and then at one point, you would be ready to hand over the creation to the community.
Will the platform be similar to Facebook in some ways?
The company intends to look at the new paradigm in the social media and one that is relevant to the Indian diaspora. Specifically, how we can unlock the creative potential using social media. The new paradigm will not be as passive as Facebook. It would be more active, more provoking in creative expression of all art forms. The idea is people would co-express creativity.
Why would you limit the platform to India?
I am not. I am saying we have derived our product from a culture. We will first concentrate on one culture and then allow other people to come into it. Facebook is formed on the idea of loneliness. We are not lonely people - we want to express ourselves. When you create a product, you create a culturally specific one first.
When will the platform be ready?
We will be ready with the alpha version in July. By the time we are ready to roll out, it could be October-November.
Why is the company headquartered in Bangalore? Mumbai makes more sense for such a creative effort.
Today, there is a big fight between San Francisco and Los Angeles - between technology and content. I find that technology people take to content easier than content takes to technology. I had a choice of staying where the content people live (Mumbai) and convince them about social media - 90 per cent of them don't know what I am talking about. The technology sector has understood the value of content.
Have you thought through monetisation models? Will it be display ad dependant?
The models are going to develop. There will be traditional advertising models but all paradigms will change. All advertising now is "after the facts" - you put something out in the market and then people advertise. We are talking about "before the fact" promotions. A potential advertiser who may want to promote his product can work with the content maker hand in hand.