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Apple Co-Founders Backs Internet Video Venture

An Internet video brainchild of three twentysomething former University of California grad students has won big backers, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Red McCombs, co-founder of Clear Channel Communications.

The billionaire moguls are backing a tiny venture-backed company, Hotswap.com, which has ambitious plans to feed a growing demand for high-definition-like Internet video for everyday e-commerce uses, such as consumer car sales, its founders said.

“I like what they’re doing. It’s definitely a step forward,” said Wozniak, the Silicon Valley wunderkind who formed Apple with entrepreneur Steve Jobs in 1976.

“Woz,” as he’s known, said he signed on as an adviser to the company to “give them ideas that come into my mind.”

Hotswap.com emerged from graduate computer science research into digital “compression” technology that its founders say can make common digital camera movie clips mimic high-definition television on Web sites.

Luke Thomas, a 21-year-old former UC Berkeley grad student and Hotswap chairman, said the often-fuzzy videos uploaded by amateurs onto YouTube.com and similar Web sites can be transformed by Hotswap’s technology. Hotswap has applied for patents for the technology, he added.

“All the technology we see on the Internet is 1994 technology,” said Thomas. “You will see e-commerce take off with the advent of high-quality video.”

Formed just three months ago with the backing from the venture finance firm Kinsey Hills Group, Hotswap.com has already won contracts with AutoNation Inc. and with Red McCombs Enterprises’ chain of auto dealerships.

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Apple, Steve Wozniak, Red McCombs, Internet video, Hotswap.com, Online video, Online Media

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