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"It is a dream that a lot of people have been thinking about for a long time," Sideman told me, relaxing at a conference table in his midtown New York office."It is a holy grail." In the 1990s Sideman studied art and technology in New York.In June of last year, on a whim and mostly out of boredom, Abuhamdeh mounted his phone next to the register and began to broadcast his day on You Now, a live streaming service. People would walk up and pay, he would ring them up, and then as they left, nail them with a zinger spoken to the camera. But I was nervous, I felt like there were people watching. It was weird.” After a few weeks of broadcasting he began to find his rhythm.He tried and failed to launch a general purpose live streaming service with Justin. Eventually he pivoted into gaming, a niche where being tied to a desktop computer made sense.
Users can give digital gifts, essentially sticks, like hearts, fistbumps, or beers.His broadcasting schedule swelled from one or two hours a day to appearing live in four two-hour sessions. “I was using up around 70GB of data each month, and I’m with Verizon so you know that’s not cheap.” He was addicted to the interaction with the audience, but couldn’t afford to keep up with his costs.So he sent a letter to You Now, which put him on its partner program, allowing him to earn money when his fans left digital tips and gifts. Cashier broadcast has several hundred people following live at any time."I was running a media technology agency for a while and trying to shove this down the throat of every client, but nobody wanted it," Sideman says.Watching a You Now stream can be an overwhelming experience."Smartphones provide all the critical pieces for these new services.They take care of distribution through the app store, monetization through in-app purchases, incredible video quality through cameras and microphones, and connectivity everywhere with LTE internet." The growth and ubiquity of social networks is also "creating an amplifier effect for good consumer products." You Now is run by founder and CEO Adi Sideman, who knows very well the long history of failed experiments with live streaming.He was part of a group that believed everyone would soon be the star of their own reality television series, all broadcast on the web.That included the infamous Josh Harris, a dot-com millionaire who imploded for his live audience, chronicled in the documentary We Live in Public.Along with broadcasting, Abuhamdeh texts and talks on the phone with his followers. Then in May of last year it suddenly clicked, exploding from less than 10 million monthly visitors to more than 100 million in the span of just four months.More than 35,000 hours of live video are now streamed on the service each day, and more than a million dollars in tips flow through its platform each month.