Raising money in a tightening venture climate can depend on who you know as much as what you’re company is doing. Based on these factors, set top box developer Sezmi may be in a pretty good place. The company aiming to potentially reshape television distribution counts among its board members a past president of the National Venture Capital Association, a prior president of Bell Labs and another executive whose resume credits include roles as CEO of NBC and Sony BMG music.
According to regulatory filings reported at PEHub, since August, the company has drawn $28m out of a possible $50m in Series C financing. Prior investors including Morgenthaler Ventures and Omni Capital Group both participated.
UPDATE Nov. 25: Sezmi has confirmed the financing and issued a press release. A total of $33m was reported. The amount includes new investments from Advanced Equities, Inc. and others, and follow-on investments from previous investors including Morgenthaler Ventures, Omni Capital Group, TD Fund, and Legend Ventures. “This round of funding enables us to put the final touches on product development and testing, and bring the Sezmi service to market,” said Buno Pati, co-founder and CEO of Sezmi.
Based in Belmont, California, Sezmi (which was originally referred to as Building B) is creating a next generation set top box for interactive TV. Instead of having to rely on separate devices for over-air digital reception or broadband cable or even, potentially, place shifting, Sezmi wants to offer consumers just one device.
According to company literature, the system utilizes available capacity in existing digital television broadcast networks to create a private, secure content distribution platform. “[This] private broadcast transmission is combined with existing broadband infrastructure to cost effectively route and deliver video content.”
Through the service, Sezmi can deliver targeted, interactive advertising, content offerings that are tailored to individual watchers, on demand programming and terrestrial digital programming in a package that is both easily installed and affordable.
Earlier this month, the company completed technical trials in the Seattle area with the help of Fisher Communications (an ABC affiliate), Tribune Broadcast (a Fox Affiliate) and Daystar Television network.
Unlike IPTV services, Sezmi’s platform works with existing broadband networks and doesn’t require significant capital infrastructure investment.
An operations center is being set up in Florida and partnerships struck. A 2009 (probably mid to late year) launch is expected.
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