Deeyoon: Debate Anyone, About Anything On Video Chat

By Elana Widmann, NoCamels October 10, 2012 Comments

Some would argue the internet is made for arguing. Comment sections on most sites see people from all corners of the globe and from completely divergent opinions, debating with each other, anonymously.

Face-to-face arguments are of a whole different nature, particularly because looking at a person and having that gaze reflected often encourages a more self-awareness.

New Israeli startup Deeyon (Hebrew word for debate) has created a platform for online video debating that takes the concept of face-to-face debate to the internet.

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Deeyon allows users to both watch live webcam debates and participate in video debates surrounding a number of topics. CEO and Founder Joe Kalfatells  NoCamels about founding Deyoon in February: “I just figured that there had to be a better way for people to discuss and engage around  issues, beyond a 140 character tweet or comments on YouTube and Facebook.” “On Deeyoon, we can debate anything: Politics, Sports, UFOs,  Chocolate vs. Vanilla,” says Kalfa.

Once users create an account using their Facebook login, they are taken to a Deeyon web dashboard which has three pages, “Trending Debates,” “Live Debates,” and “Available Debates.” There is also fourth option, to create your own debate. In addition, users can find interesting debates to watch or participate in by clicking the “Rooms” and selecting from a number of broad topics including, “Gender and Sexuality,” “Religion,” or “Economy.”

Keeping it civil

All debates on the website are auto-moderated. The debates are short, and can have pre-set times of one, two, three, five or 10 minutes. By requiring a Facebook login, Kalfa believes the site won’t become vulgar or inappropriate, like other online video-chat platforms that do not require signing up.

The company’s business model is currently split into three forms of monetization. Brand debating will see Deeyoon partnering with brands or companies to create debates around a product or service. The site also runs traditional online advertising to generate revenue. Finally, the company will release its Premium Version in the coming weeks.

“Our site is for the ‘average Joe’ who wants to argue about an issue,” says Kalfa. “For a monthly fee, more professional [debaters] will have their own platform, a premium version available for $4.95 a month.” Kalfa believes this premium platform will provide a more professional and competitive environment for debates.

To create buzz, the company is paying celebrities to participate in debates on the site. Deeyon has already recorded 15 celebrity debates that will be released to the media in the coming weeks.

Currently on the site is a debate with Jose Canseco, the famed US baseball player, who debates his worthiness in the baseball hall of fame after his admitted steroid use, with Deeyoon user Ari Levy. Michael Lohan, father of troubled celebrity Lindsay Lohan, debates Octomom Naoya Suleman, the mother of octuplets, about whether or not children need both parents.

No “pause” or “fast-forward” buttons

At the company’s launch on Tuesday, October 2, there were 5,000 users on the site for an average time of four minutes each.

At the end of debates, such as “Should the US adopt Canada’s drug control tactics?” and “Is Atheism a religion?” viewers can click on who they agreed with and leave comments. Currently, videos have no pause, rewind or fast-forward options and are a little slow to load.

Kalfa is now funding the company himself. Kalfa’s road to professional success is atypical. “I barely finished high school. At 18, together with [my brother] Nick, we started a dental supply company by borrowing 5,000 dollars. That companyis now a multimillion dollar company called North American Dental Wholesalers.”

Kalfa moved to Israel three years ago and has invested or founded several other startups, including CaplinkedWahooly and tweetTV.

In a few weeks, the company will roll out a plug-in widget so users can create debates about articles on publisher sites like CNN (or NoCamels!) with just one click. The company has an eight person developer team in San Francisco working on new features.

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