This Ex-Apple Engineer Is “Building A TV Station” With His New iPad App


Thomas Pun demos Nowbox at SF New Tech. @cultofmac.
Thomas Pun demos Nowbox at SF New Tech. @cultofmac

Nowbox is a slick iPad app that allows you to waste spend many hours watching YouTube.

Nowbox was co-founded by Thomas Pun, who worked at Apple for six years, including stints as technical manager for the team responsible for the H.264 encoder technologies that shipped with QuickTime 7 and on the first video iPod.

Your viewing penguins all lined up with Nowbox.

Funded by Y Combinator, the first product of the startup company is an app billed as an interactive TV guide for the iPad, uploading your YouTube subscriptions, favorites and “watch later” lists. Nowbox also guides you through the labyrinth of clips uploaded on YouTube by categorizing videos, so you can watch based on your interests.

“We’re building a TV station,” said the puckish Pun, wearing a hoodie and sporting a cool angular haircut, answering a question about the revenue model at SF New Tech’s China Night. “We basically determine what people watch in a way, so there are a lot of possibilities to monetize it.”

Pun’s demo showed how Nowbox loads the latest channels, including the meme du jour or news clips your Twitter or Facebook pals have watched or favorited recently. Once you find a channel you like, you can max it full screen but still swipe through the videos on that channel without resizing “for hours and hours.” It integrates with Apple TV, so all the video you select from your iPad will play on the big screen.

Pun wouldn’t discuss downloads for the app but says that in just two months, Nowbox has served up 500,000 videos — or about 30 million seconds, the equivalent of almost a year in viewing time.

“We kind of feel bad about it, that’s a lot of productivity lost,” Pun said.

An iPhone version of the app is in beta, we’ll keep you posted.