Mobile video app Viddy's heyday was April 2012. It was the number one app in the App Store, had millions of active users thanks to Facebook's Open Graph functionality, and boasted more than $30 million in investments. A year and a half later, Viddy looks a little stale. The company fired its CEO, laid off a third of its staff, and saw usage numbers drop as Instagram video and Vine took over. But CEO and founder J.J. Aguhob isn't throwing in the towel. In fact, he's hoping for a new lease on life by renaming his company Supernova and launching two brand new iPhone apps today: Epic, for sharing slow-motion videos, and Clique, for ephemeral group chatting.
"The original nexus for starting Viddy was making the storytelling process easier," says Aguhob. "We are now starting to think about other products we can developer that are true to that vision." Aguhob and company spent the last several months on Clique, a Snapchat for groups of sorts, which lets users anonymously send images within a group. In other words, any group member can send an image, but recipients can't see who sent it. Upon receiving a photo from a member of your group, you can add text on top of it, add meme stickers (like a Scumbag Steve hat), or share another photo from your camera roll or popular sites like Imgur, Instagram, Flickr, and Tumblr. Clique targets younger people, a demographic which Aguhob says is longing for an ephemeral group messaging app. "Snapchat is one-to-one or one-to-many," says Aguhob. "[Clique is] storytelling in a group context."
Epic, on the other hand, is like Viddy, but for slow-motion videos. Once Apple announced the iPhone 5S, which lets users shoot 120 frames-per-second slow-motion video, Aguhob pulled some resources from Clique and built Epic in just two weeks on top of Viddy's existing infrastructure. "Some of the earliest Viddy use cases were skate kids and surfers shooting a lot of slow-mo video," says Aguhob, and Epic is a means to address that behavior. The app includes a slow-motion camera, so even users without an iPhone 5S can shoot slow-motion video of their kickflips and hang tens. However, these users won't get full 120 frames-per-second video — they'll get footage closer to 60 frames per second, just like with video app SloPro.
Despite rebranding as Supernova and outing two new apps, Aguhob insists that "Viddy is in good shape." Monthly average users are trending higher every month, he says, and the company plans to keep iterating on Viddy 2.0, which launched earlier this year. "We are seeing and retaining a loyal US user base, and in light of competition we still growing," says Aguhob. Yet, Viddy's two-app combo launch combined with a company rebrand still feels like a pivot — a move reserved for startups in trouble. Epic and Clique are indeed two different takes on "storytelling," as Aguhob puts it, but as a small, 12-person team, Supernova will have to pick its battles more than ever. The company still has "plenty of money in the bank," according to Aguhob, and a talented team formed before the app bubble hit in 2012. "We still feel like it's very early in the mobile space, especially in the US since LTE is more present," says Aguhob. "There's vines, there's tweets, there's viddies," he says. "There's a lot of space for different companies to compete."