Visiting Dignitaries

Oprah Joins New York City Video Startup Vyou to Power Book Club 2.0

Look under your chair!!!
screen shot 2012 06 26 at 10 48 48 am Oprah Joins New York City Video Startup Vyou to Power Book Club 2.0

Oprah, in the wild. (Photo:

Vyou, the New York City-based Q&A platform, has a very familiar face on its new service: media mogul Oprah Winfrey. The former daytime diva is using Vyou’s video service to enrich the recently-rebooted Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail–the Eat Pray Love-ish hiking memoir that inspired Ms. Winfrey to relaunch her book club–also joined Vyou answer reader’s questions. Both women have been soliciting questions on and posted recorded video answers today.

On Oprah’s Vyou profile, she pledges allegiances to this whole 2.0 business, telling viewers, “I just love the digital world because we can now talk about my favorite thing, reading.” Favorite thing–see what she did there?!

On the phone with Betabeat, CEO Steve Spurgat said Vyou designed a special skin for the site to match the design of–a free service the company has offered other big-name users like Senator Chuck Grassley and the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Mr. Spurgat said he was approached by Oprah’s staffers about a possible integration after they saw him speak at a YO! Social conference. “We’re not monetizing at all,” Mr. Spurgat said of the company’s current plans. “We’re very focused on driving adoption to the platform and building this really great thing.” Vyou’s first attempts at monetization will come later this year, he added, by offering partners a revenue-sharing opportunity with pre-roll advertising.

The company seems to have pivoted more towards brand-name and high-profile clientele, but Mr. Spurgat said Vyou is still cultivating different users. “I love all the use cases we have. Everyone from young people to see us as more of a Formspring with video, and then celebrities and influential people.”

Oprah’s team has been promoting the partnership in O magazine, but Mr. Spurgat wasn’t sure if the doyenne would personally shout-out the service to her 12 million odd Twitter fans. “We shall see,” he said, “She manages her own account.”

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