5min.com was a website with more than 200,000 short instrumental, knowledge, and lifestyle videos from leading independent producers and media companies. The service branded itself as the "Life Videopedia." It was born out of the idea that "any solution can be explained in no more than 5 minutes."
Notwithstanding the argument by the creators of 5min.com that any solution can be explained in less than five minutes, attempting to find their website today is a task that will take well over five minutes. In fact, the website is no longer publishing.
What could have happened to the site that once promised to give "each [video] creator a personal promotional studio – a space to showcase their skills and share their secrets"? We took some time to find out what happened to 5min.com by following its history, services, and acquisition by AOL.
The History of 5min.com
5min.com was established in 2007 in Israel by Ran Harnevo, Tal Simantov, and Hanan Laschover. It had offices in Tel Aviv, but its headquarters were in New York City.
According to an archived page of 5min.com, the website was established based on the philosophy "that everyone is an expert in something and has something to teach others." The platform was therefore designed to provide an opportunity for individuals to showcase their expertise.
In an interview published in 2007, Harnevo gives an idea of the objective behind the 5min.com project. He says, "we want to create a video library of our common knowledge, a library that will serve anyone and shall inspire every user to add his/her own knowledge."
But why did the developers of 5min.com, 5min Media, decide that five minutes should be the limit? Harnevo has the answer, "Because we believe that today people are looking for fast and efficient solutions, especially on the Net." He adds, "We live in a very hectic world, and we would like to supply quick solutions." Harnevo's opinion is that those looking for deep solutions should buy books.
In describing its service, 5min.com claimed that it featured content from some of the world's most innovative producers and leading media companies. 5min Media claimed that its video syndication platform received more than 160 million unique visitors every month, attracted by content available in more than 20 categories and 140 subcategories.
The site listed an array of categories it featured. These included "video recipes, yoga and fitness routines, DIY projects for home and garden, health videos on specific conditions, beauty and fashion tips, and video game walk-throughs."
In an article published by Mashable.com, describing 5min.com and its service, Kristen Nicole says, "When it comes to creating a service that provides information in a visual manner, 5min has done a pretty good job." According to Nicole, the Smart Player may have been 5min.com's best feature.
5min Media described the Smart Player as a "special player that allows viewers to watch the video in slow motion, or frame by frame, zoom in and out." They add that the Smart Player "gives the video creator the option to make a storyboard that helps others better understand the demonstration."
To share videos on 5min.com, users needed to register and create a studio. The personal studio is where they saved their favorite videos and from where they could share them. The site also provided tools that helped users to enhance their videos.
A Challenging Business Model
In an article published by Wired.com, describing the challenges that a business like 5min Media could face, Eliot Van Buskirk observes, "It's easy to distribute your video online. The hard part is getting paid."
For 5min.com, the idea was to make its revenues from advertising. According to Van Buskirk, video producers received one-third of the revenue obtained from advertisements. However, he notes that the company soon faced a challenge: "the videos on 5min and similar sites don't always look professional … [many videos] were made by people who don't particularly seem like experts."
Van Buskirk reports that the main challenge with the 5min business model was that some advertisers were unwilling to live with the risk of having their brands appear besides poorly made videos. This is a problem that 5min Media solved by entering into partnerships with more established sites like the For Dummies website, Britannica, HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, HealthCentral, and Elle.
In identifying other challenges faced by 5min.com, Nick Saint writes for Business Insider. He says that "To make serious money, it [5min.com] will need to make good on that potential to scale. He adds that "consumers will always be more likely to arrive at how-to videos through search queries; dominating the space is about SEO and casting a wide net, not building a popular destination."
Harnevo had an idea how his company would mitigate the challenges it faced: keeping margins bigger by "steering clear of costly content creation altogether."
AOL Acquires 5min
In September 2010, TechCrunch.com reported that AOL (originally known as America Online) had agreed to acquire 5min for $65 million. In describing the deal, TechCrunch says, "It isn't exactly what you'd call a stellar exit for 5min's investors, who pumped just south of $13 million into the company, but not a terrible one either."
TechCrunch also reports that before the agreement, "AOL [had] already begun to integrate 5min Media's video content on its sites."
In a press release announcing the acquisition, AOL quotes Harnevo saying, "We've seen rapid and successful growth as an independent organization, and becoming part of AOL is a natural next step." He adds, "We're confident that AOL's organizational horsepower, combined with the vast library, audience, and syndication capabilities 5min Media offers, present compelling opportunities for AOL as well as the content creators we work with and the publishers we serve."
What Then Happened to 5min.com
The acquisition of 5min.com was completed on September 28, 2010. 5min.com would remain online for the next two years. By November 2012, visitors to 5min.com started being redirected to the AOL website. The redirect lasted for the next six years. It broke in the first half of 2018.
AOL does not provide any information about what eventually happened to 5min.com.