Over the past several years, Los Angeles-based startup ZEFR has made a name for itself by working with content creators to make money off their videos on YouTube. Founded as Movieclips.com, the startup began by licensing short movie clips, distributing them, and monetizing them on its own site. It wasn’t until it was able to put them on YouTube, though, that it started to really hit it big.
The team also had an epiphany when it found a clip from Dirty Dancing uploaded by a fan on the video site. Usually, those videos would have been taken down by the content owner, but the guys at Movieclips had a better idea — what if it could claim fan-uploaded videos for its movie studio partners and help to monetize them?
The shift to identifying content helped open up whole new doors for the company, as it began partnering with content creators outside of the Hollywood studio realm — for instance, music labels and sports programmers. It was then able to help them find videos that fans have uploaded from their content. With that change in focus, the company also decided to rebrand as ZEFR.
In the last couple of years, it’s expanded from about 30 employees to 230, which meant leasing space in a huge former art studio next to its Venice, Calif. office. And now it is expanding its services to also include tools to help brands and advertisers identify videos being uploaded by their fans, and to connect with them.
For every brand-produced video that is uploaded to YouTube, there are hundreds put up by regular users. Using the same technology that it developed for content owners, ZEFR is also able to find user-generated videos and analyze how different brands stack up.
Check out the video above to get a better idea of ZEFR’s technology and how it helps content owners and brands. And come back on Monday and Wednesday next week for the final two parts of our series on new digital media companies in L.A. Be sure also to check out the whole series of videos below: