The latest video startup is called Whatifi, and its name is a clue to its key feature: viewers get to make choices that influence the narrative of the video shows they’re watching. “Tell your movies where to go,” as its website slogan puts it.
We’ve seen this kind of thing before, from Black Mirror’s ‘Bandersnatch’ episode on Netflix to the work of Telltale Games on games like Minecraft: Story Mode and The Walking Dead.
Whatifi adds an extra twist though: your friends. “Watch movies with friends, join a group chat, and when the characters have to make a decision, you choose what they do,” is how it works. “Just swipe to vote on where you want the story to go. Can’t agree? Debate it out in the group chat – it’s a social cinematic experience.”
For now, only two films are available to watch in Whatifi’s iPhone app (although by definition, the format encourages re-watching to try different decisions). For now it’s all free, so the business model is mysterious, but Whatifi is launching with $10m in funding from Silicon Valley royalty: VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, Zynga founder Marc Pincus, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, Bebo co-founder Michael Birch and others.