Print This Post

Venture Report: $32m for Miniweb

miniweb financingAbout year and a half to two years ago, the big money was going into Internet video platform services.  One after another companies hoping to rival YouTube in content aggregation, or IPTV services dreaming of better content delivery, closed venture rounds in excess of ten and twenty million dollars.  Today, the hot zone for massive venture investment may be interactivity. 

In late August, San Mateo based Conviva secured $20m for their interactive live broadcast platform.    Today, UK based Miniweb announced the closing of a $32m round.

Miniweb was founded in 2007, the result of a management buyout (“MBO”) of select interactive assets from British TV service BskyB .  The MBO was led by Miniweb founder, Ian Valentine, who was previously a Technical Alliances Director at BskyB.

Two services included in the buyout were focused on interactivity through the TV.  These were renamed “TV Key” and “Key and See”  and became the heart of Miniweb’s current service.  The basic premise seems to be web-style interaction with traditional programming using a standard remote control as the user-input.   

tv keyThe “TV Key” service is the starting point.  It manages the generation of unique numeric codes that are essentially the equivalent of the web’s URL addresses.  It works, on the surface, in largely the same way.   Advertisers and content producers buy words of interest. The words are then translated to the numeric address (A non-working Metue example is shown).

When a viewer presses the numeric sequence on  their remote control (“Key and See”)  it triggers the launch of interactive functionality built in wTVML (see end of article for more info).  This information can be rendered in a TV Set top Box’ integrated web browser .

A full platform of services including content authoring tools, search tools and tracking/management tools are also available.

Miniweb’s service premiered last April on BskyB.    In August, the company hired Andrew Carver as CEO.

The funds from the new financing are earmarked for  global expansion. 

Explained  Andrew Carver in a press release: “Miniweb answers a clear global need for interactive services using open technology that can work on existing TV devices with a remote control. The standards based platform and browser are TV device and middleware agnostic, making them easy and more cost effective to deploy than proprietary solutions across cable, satellite, terrestrial or IPTV broadband networks. We have a unique and powerful service offering with an exciting, wide ranging vision to deliver a converged broadband and broadcast entertainment experience and are already providing interactive TV capability to over 9 million homes.”

The new financing round was led by Meritage Funds and DeGeorge Holdings.

ON wTVML from Wikipedia:
WTVML is an XML based content format designed to allow web site operators to easily develop and deploy Interactive TV services… Some newer set-top boxes (particularly IPTV devices) use various versions of HTML browsers. Many of these have proprietary TV extensions, and different deployment characteristics, which result in untested services being deployed unfaithfully or worse with run-time errors. Due to the need for explicit layouts, as well as other reasons, many designers attempting to create TV Style services using HTML browsers need to make extensive use of JavaScript, which has the result of further inhibiting interoperability, and requires manual testing of a service before it is deployed by the majority of networks, thus essentially closing a network from open internet access.

WTVML services can be automatically and dynamically transformed into various forms of HTML/JS/CSS, making them compatible with traditional web browsers as well as WTVML native browsers, and allowing the network operator to manage his platform specific features independently from the standard used by the web site authors. WTVML follows a web 2.0 style model, in that complete applications are DTD driven, allowing TV Style services to be created without the use of Script…. The format follows a strict XML syntax (DTD) that has been developed in response to multiple user requirements by BSkyB, and is now being enhanced by Miniweb

Related Articles from Metue
Conviva and Move Network Close on Funding
Move Networks Raises $46m.
Kleiner Launches iPhone Fund
New Specialist VC: The Blackberry Partners Fund
Venture Round Up: Four New Fundings
The Columbus Egg: Thoughts on Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship
Creative Artists Agency Starts Venture Fund


Comments are closed.