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From the Financing Files: Conduit Labs and uPlayMe

vc moneyThere’s been a lot of activity on the financing front lately.  With big deals like Metacafe’s $30m round, and smaller deals with celebrity investors like,   Exabre (The Filter) some other smaller round deals haven’t gotten a lot of press.  Two that were almost overlooked are game company Conduit Labs and discovery-agent software company uPlayMe

Conduit Labs:
Conduit Labs has raised $5.5m in a first round for an internet gaming site.  The company is in “stealth mode” and many details aren’t clear but they seem to be focused on some hybrid of social networking and virtual world gaming.  The game is internet based and accessed through a web browser.   Charles River Ventures and Prism VentureWorks provided the financing.  The company appears to have been partly developed internally at Prism as part of their entrepreneur in residence program. Some of the people involved have previously worked on games like Guitar Hero and Lord of the Rings Online. They’re promising this will be something different but details aren’t available to support that, for now.

uPlayMe is a New York based company offering another discovery-agent service for media like The Filter. It employs a small downloaded client to monitor your media usage and then aims to use social networking tools to connect people based on common tastes in music and movies.  If you’re a U2 fan it will introduce you to similar fans, or help find similar music. Competing with sites like Last.FM (bought by CBS), and others, the company hopes to become a relevant player in the growing recommendation-agent market. They intend to make money via commissions from lead referrals to stores selling music and media.   The amount of money raised was not disclosed.  Warner Music Group and Village Ventures were among the backers. 

Warner has plans to use the uPlayMe technology across its own website properties.  Speaking in the announcement Alex Zubillaga, Executive Vice President, Digital Strategy and Business Development for WMG said: “uPlayMe will be an important resource for Warner Music to leverage as we continue to strengthen our digital offerings,” adding, “uPlayMe will enable us to have a deeper relationship with consumers, as well as drive additional discovery of our artists.”

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