E Hearo.Live, The Startup That Is Turning Solitary Media Watching Into A Live, Social Experience

We had the opportunity to interview Edward Lerner, CEO of Hearo.Live. The company that lets you talk with friends and fans side by side as you watch videos.
 


Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and Hearo.Live? 
A: I have been making games forever. I wrote the game that Electronic Arts (EA) based their IPO on - Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer. I started by playing games, then, in college, making games, then making game companies, and now making new media platforms. From 2003-2017 I worked at Sony (SNE) PlayStation, where my team did a lot of hard work on the PS4. After the PS4 took off, I wanted a new challenge and I left to found Hearo.Live. In 2020, Hearo is the world's only scalable live venue for sports, shows and events, turning solitary watching into a thrilling, front row experience.
 


Q: How did you get the idea for Hearo.Live?
A: In 1997, Multitude (my previous startup) invented the first talk and play game, FireTeam. It was a bit like LoL, 10 year before them, and then FireTalk, a lot like Skype, 3 years before them. Since FireTeam, gamers have been putting on headsets to talk and play together. But even our 2 billion gamers watch more than we play. What if we could connect with our friends when we’re watching like we do when we’re playing? That’s what inspired Hearo.Live.

 

Q: Was it always your goal to have your own company?
A: Like any venture funded started, it’s not just mine. The investors and other founders own it with me. My goal is to do something that is dazzling, fun, popular and profitable -- and that makes the world a bit nicer. I can’t do that solo!

I’m at my best when steering the ship in uncharted waters. I’ve had a lot of practice, starting with EA’s first hit 3D game, Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer, then F22 Interceptor, one of the first successful 3D console games, the first game with texture mapping, Car & Driver, the first all texture mapping game, Ultima Underworld, the first MOBA and first Talk+Play game, FireTeam, the first million user voice conferencing service, FireTalk, then CTO on the Sims, Director of Engineering on the PS4, and now the first Talk+Watch platform, Hearo. It’s been an amazing journey, growing up with the game industry, from the first simple 3D games to the spectacle of 12 Million people! watching the rapper, Travis Scott in Fortnite. Amazing! 
 

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Dave R. Johnson 1 month ago Member's comment

Pretty neat.

Flat Broke 1 month ago Member's comment

Thanks Edward Lerner. I plan to invest

Barry Glassman 1 month ago Member's comment

Thanks Edward Lerner, interesting idea. But how does your company make money? I like the idea of watching a movie with a friend, but I wouldn't pay for it. I could just video chat the person while we both watch.

Edward Lerner 1 month ago Member's comment

If you want to learn more I recommend going to https://republic.co/hearo-live

In short we're a partner with the broadcasters. They need a platform to fully leverage their direct connection to you, a connect TV doesn't have, and YouTube keeps for Google, but not the broadcaster.

Texan Hunter 1 month ago Member's comment

I think this is a great idea. But is COVID-19 actually helping you? Aren't major companies incorporating this same idea on their own now, out of necessity? E.g. I often watch movies on Netflix and Plex, and I saw both recently introduced an option to watch it with a friend. Something I likely would never have done before, but now I think is a great idea. But if huge companies like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and more offer this, why will people need Hearo.Live? Or am I misunderstanding what you do?

Edward Lerner 1 month ago Member's comment

If you want to learn more I recommend going to https://republic.co/hearo-live

Why doesn't Netflix build YouTube, or Disney build Facebook? Media companies build media companies, not social media companies. Once watching together becomes as vital as playing together I expect we'll get some really nice acquisition offers. That's how the big guys muscle into new areas. Startups get big because it's too hard to build a disruptive startup inside a big company.

Moon Kil Woong 1 month ago Contributor's comment

This is not a particularly good time for this, save maybe video games, however, this is best done on multiple screens. The last thing I want to hear is useless banter while watching sports, the commentators are annoying enough. Maybe I'm the minority in this field. That said you need sports to drive this and most sports are on a break and the few that are should be taking a break. What we need is investment in Covid solutions since there is not a coherent national response.

Michele Grant 1 month ago Member's comment

I agree Moon. How would this even work? How does one watch a movie, and pay attention to their friends and their conversations at the same time? I think it would be distracting, no?

Edward Lerner 1 month ago Member's comment

It works exactly like inviting your friends over your house to watch on your couch. If you're interested give it a try. You might be surprised how nice it feels.

Harry Goldstein 1 month ago Member's comment

I agree. This doesn't make much sense to me. Why would I want to watch a movie with someone who isn't with me? And if I did, why can't I just call a friend on the phone while watching?

Edward Lerner 1 month ago Member's comment

I recommend you try it. If you use your phone you'll get echo and feedback from the show. If you use Hearo you won't. It's fun to watch movies or sports with family and friends. That's why most people have couches in front of their TVs.

Harry Goldstein 1 month ago Member's comment

Thanks, out of curiosity, what doe the name of your company mean?

Bruce Powers 1 month ago Member's comment

Perhaps this is not for your generation, but these are changing times. Do you know how many millions of people logged on to watch a virtual concert on Fortnite (an insanely popular video game)?

Ayelet Wolf 1 month ago Member's comment

Harry Goldstein, You might enjoy this as a way to connect with your grand kids. It is a good way to connect any time, even before covid if you aren't located near them. But even more so now when many elderly are stuck home alone.

I think Edward Lerner has hit on a really good idea, long before others. Unfortunately, I think the pandemic will cause many competitors will now see the value as well and try to copy him. His first mover's advantage might pay off.

Cynthia Decker 1 month ago Member's comment

I agree with your assessment Ayelet. Great idea but not sure why a major company like Netflix can't do it better. Or what if Microsoft created this and gave it away free bundled into Skype or Windows (a common tactic for the tech giant). Edward Lerner, what really differentiates your product from what others have and what's to stop another company from replicating it?

Bill Myers 1 month ago Member's comment

It's funny you mention this, Moon Kil Woong. I just had an argument with my wife over this exact issue. She loves sitting in silence while watching. I love cracking a few jokes, or moans, having some commentary, etc. What you might call banter. But for me that's part of the movie experience. I have many friends that feel the same way. But my wife doesn't exactly enjoy watching movies with me :)

Edward Lerner 1 month ago Member's comment

If you are interested in investing in Hearo.Live we are raising a Seed 2 round on https://republic.co/hearo-live

Seed 2 will close either when it's full or this fall.

Barry Hochhauser 1 month ago Member's comment

Love this idea.

Adam Reynolds 1 month ago Member's comment

Really interesting Edward Lerner, and remarkably timely with the pandemic. Your startup couldn't have started at a better time!

Edward Lerner 1 month ago Member's comment

We started in stealth in 2017, but you're right, now is the time!