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It’s easier to pivot to video if you get computers to do the work

Meet Wibbitz, one of the software startups that helps publishers make lots of videos very, very quickly.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Pivot to video? Easy to say. Harder to do.

Enter Wibbitz, which wants to make making videos easy — by getting computers to make videos, or at least help make them.

Wibbitz makes software that lets publishers including Reuters, Time Inc. and Hearst churn out as many videos as they’d like, as fast as they’d like. Wibbitz, whose Israeli founders started the company six years ago, says its 400 clients now generate 20,000 clips a month.

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If you make media, monetize it or get it in front of people, you’ll want to be there.

You can let Wibbitz do all the work, and it will turn a text-based story you’ve already published into a video in 10 seconds. Or, if you want to monkey around with it a bit, it will take a bit longer: Wibbitz says it takes its users an average of 6.8 minutes to “semi-automatically” create a video.

You’ve seen this stuff all over the web — gets-the-job-done videos that often feature a bare-bones script, flat narration and music cues that don’t necessarily make sense. Here’s a two-year-old demo reel from Wibbitz itself:

My hunch is that Wibbitz’s robot-made-or-assisted videos — or those of its competitor, another Israeli-born company called Wochit — wouldn’t generate many views without the help of other robots, which automatically play the videos for web/app surfers.

But Wibbitz says its videos generate one billion views a month, and that people watch an average of 70 percent of each one.

And no, none of these are likely to be nominated for an award. But if advertisers keep paying for them, publishers will keep making them.

And investors like the way that sounds: Wibbitz just raised $20 million in a funding round led by Bertelsmann, the German media conglomerate; other backers include the Associated Press and the Weather Channel, as well as traditional VCs like Horizons Ventures. The company has raised $31 million so far.

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