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Monday, September 22, 2008

Online Video Leaders: Leo Laporte

Online Video Leaders is a new blog series I'm doing about leaders in the online video industry who I believe are breaking new ground and leading the way as we build this new industry.

When it comes to online video Leo Laporte is no twit even though Leo runs Twit.tv and Twit Live.

Leo seems to create and monetize more online video content than any other independent producer on the Internet today. Leo is truly the Digital Master of online audio and video community building and has broken ground in areas of relationship building, podcasting, advertising and new business models.

From the independent content creation side Leo creates and delivers more information daily through his Twit network than most people consume in a month and he is an inspiration to other online content creators as well.

According to Leo's website, "It all started in 1998 with a small cable network called ZDTV, a channel dedicated to covering computers, the Internet, and personal technology. The people behind this site all worked on that network as hosts, reporters, or producers."

In 2004, ZDTV, then called TechTV, was sold and dismantled. Former TechTV hosts, Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, and John C. Dvorak, and producers Robert Heron, David Prager, and Roger Chang went on to other jobs, but stayed in touch, with each other, and with fans of the late TechTV. Those fans told them again and again how important TechTV had been in their lives, and how much they missed the channel.

On a rainy evening in January, 2005 a few of that group got together for dinner after spending the day covering MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. Leo, who was working as a radio host, happened to have a microphone and recorder. He turned it on and recorded 20 minutes of idle chatter about the Expo and the tech world in general. He posted that recording on his web site. Within a few days tens of thousands of people had downloaded the recording. TechTV fans began clamoring for more. A few months later, TWiT was born.

I first saw Leo at the Podcast and New Media Expo in the Fall of 2005. Leo talked about Podtrac and how they handled his ad sales and how anyone could go make online content and get it out to the masses. I left the New Media expo inspired and within a few weeks shot the first episode of French Maid TV.

Leo Laporte is a true pioneer of online audio and video and one of my Online Video Leaders.

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