Veoh: $26m Series C

San Diego based internet video-sharing site Veoh has closed its third round of venture capital financing.  The  $26m Series C round was led by Goldman Sachs and also included prior investors Spark Capital and Shelter Capital Partners.

veohThe company, which was launched in 2005, has raised approximately $41m to date.  Former Disney exec Michael Eisner who sits on the board of directors and is among the notable investors through his investment company, TornanteTime Warner has also invested.  Unsubstantiated speculation is putting the pre-money valuation for this round somewhere just above $60m.

Like IPTV companies Joost and Babelgum, Veoh offers a Peer to Peer video player but unlike the other two, Veoh has focused more on user-generated content and syndication than on trying to be a content destination.   Users can upload videos of differing sizes or quality levels and Veoh will syndicate them to different video destinations from YouTube to MySpace.   Unlike YouTube, Veoh can handle larger sized video files and higher quality content.   

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EMI gives Passalong DRM-Free Music

Following on the heels of licensing DRM-Free music for sale through Amazon’s music store and Apple’s iTunes, music label EMI this week extended a similar offering to lesser known music retailer Passalong Networks.

320kb DRM-Free downloads will be available for all EMI tracks sold through Passalong’s Storeblock’s music platform.  Storeblock, is a  technology and music sales and distribution platform widely licensed to businesses to power their own private-label online  music stores.

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Joost vs. Babelgum

Fads come and go and while at their peak they often get a lot of press attention.  Babelgum and Joost are the two most mentioned names when it comes to Peer-to Peer IPTV, and both are trying to prove their marketplace is no fad.

babelgum vs joostLondon based,  Joost has been the initial front runner.  It was first to market, raised a large amount of capital, is signing up partners, hired a big name CEO, and even hired a talent agent. Babelgum’s PR machine hasn’t been as active in informing the world of their progress but the Ireland based company has been quietly moving ahead in preparation to compete.  A few days ago, Babelgum  rolled out its own beta offering. 

Like Joost, access to Babelgum is limited to invitation, and like Joost, there’s a lot still being developed.  The offerings are anything but complete.  Still both are far enough along to merit a side by side comparison; so here’s a first look. 

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Wibree and Bluetooth

If only a cellular earpiece was small enough to not look like an appendage growing from my ear….
If only a bike computer could tell you a call was coming in on your cell phone while your phone was safely stowed away….
If only a small sensor could monitor a diabetic’s glucose levels and wirelessly alert him/her of dangerous levels on his or her watch, or cell phone…
If only video game controllers could wirelessly interact with each other to trigger changes in game play….

wibreeIncreasingly, instrumental technology seems to be finding its way out of Scandinavia and into the open source world.  First there was Linux, the operating system developed from the work of Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki  in the early 90s. Then, there was Bluetooth, the low power, low frequency wireless technology we now find powering everything from cellular earpieces, and stereo headphones to wireless computer mice.  Now it’s Wibree, a Nokia development, that’s poised to bring a new round of changes and evolution.  Wibree, in fact,  may be technology to make all of the above “If Only’s” possible and a lot more beyond them.

(Bluetooth was originally developed by Ericsson in Sweden and then expanded with the help of Intel, Microsoft, Nokia and Toshiba before its management was passed to the non-profit Bluetooth Special Interest Group that oversees the licensing and trademark management.)

So what is Wibree? –   For starters, Wibree is a wireless communications technology like Bluetooth.  In fact, it’s sometimes been referred to as Ultra-Low Power Bluetooth – making it a derivative technology that can both stand alone or integrate with existing Bluetooth standards.  

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Music from CinemaNow

How many people regularly watch music videos? I wonder. It’s hard for me to believe it’s a gigantic number, but the recent volume of activity to provide music video content online suggests my imagination must be way off.

Just a few weeks ago, Warner Music announced it was joining with Premium TV to offer its own video collection on a private label Warner site. At the same time EMI announced that it had struck a deal with YouTube to provide EMI music video content for display through the YouTube site.

imageToday, movie download service CinemaNow announced it too was climbing on the music video train. It announced plans to resuscitate a prior effort to sell music videos too. The site is relaunching today with videos from Warner Music Group available for sale and viewing on portable devices.

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Blockbuster strikes again at Netflix

In a further advancement into domain once solidly controlled by Netflix, Blockbuster today introduced an Internet Only DVD rental service. The new service, which is being called Blockbuster By Mail, will be distinct from Blockbuster’s combined Mail-order and In-store service (called Total Access).

Unlike Total Access, subscribers to the new “By Mail” service will not be able to rent titles from retail stores as well as online. They will, however, be able to return to their local stores, or by mail. Use of the retail footprint for returns will theoretically increase turn-around time for some users.

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Movie Rentals from Apple? iTunes subscriptions?

Despite a recent history of saying it wasn’t interested in subscription businesses, London’s Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal are reporting today that Apple is in late-stage discussions with Hollywood movie studios to offer movie rentals through iTunes. The rumored plan which includes $2.99 video downloads that will expire after one month doesn’t contradict Apple’s anti-subscription position, but other rumors circulating suggest (though much less likely) that Apple might also consider a subscription rental package.

While information on the concept of iTunes rentals is too early and inconclusive to verify with certainty, it’s not an unrealistic rumor. Apple is doing well with DVD sales through iTunes but its growing market share could easily be swallowed by Amazon’s Unbox video download service (partnered with Tivo), or efforts to provide digital rental services from Blockbuster or Netflix, should they materialize. Click to Read More

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