Joost Closes Substantial Series A Financing

It’s been an up and down week for the year old IPTV startup Joost but it’s ending on a high note; a very high note.

h-bd-aAfter several big announcements were made about content and advertising partnerships, the web was abuzz at the beginning of the month that the supposed broadcast-quality, free, peer-to-peer,  net-television service was officially going live (from beta).   Those announcements were slightly misleading (as access was dependent on invitation) but there was a spike in traffic, and interest.    Shortly thereafter, the Joost blog reported that the company’s central servers, which are located in Luxembourg, were having problems handling the demand and load. 

While Joost may be struggling to get it’s systems tuned to scale with demand, Joost released news that will likely leave the week, and the month, on a positive note no matter what happens next.  Earlier Thursday, the company announced the closing of a substantial Series A financing round.  In total, $45m was raised.

The venture round was led by Sequoia Capital and the European firm, Index Ventures (which also invested in the Joost founder’s prior company, Skype).

Though, as is the norm for private/venture transactions, little information was announced regarding valuation, it is clear  that the pre-money valuation accepted by the investors was substantial. The $45m dollar investment was characterized as buying a minority stake in the company which translates to a pre-money valuation of greater than $45m – though it’s not clear how much money was invested previously by the founders (who were flush with cash from the sale of Skype to eBay).  $45m pre-money is still  a staggering number for a year old company yet to have revenue or roll out its product in a wide release.   

Perspective on just how big a transaction this is comes with a comparison to investment in Joost’s competitor Veoh Networks.  In April 2006, Veoh a rival P2P IPTV company closed its Series B round. That transaction raised $12.5m from venture investors Shelter Capital and Spark Capital as well as Time Warner and other corporate partners. That round also resulted in two board seats going to industry heavyweights Michael Eisner (former CEO of Disney) and  Art Bilger (the former vice-chairman of Akamai and current managing partner at Shelter.).

The Joost deal is nearly 4 times the size of the Veoh investment – and it’s an A–round financing, not a Series B.   In what should be the understatement of the month,  Joost co-founder Janus Friis said “This funding represents a tremendous vote of confidence in Joost’s platform.”  Sequoia, which recently saw a tremendous return on its investment in YouTube, and hasn’t been scared to take large gambles in its transactions,  is clearly betting big on Joost.

In an indication that, like Skype, Joost’s has global plans from the start, Click to Read More

CastTV: Video Search Series A

User Generated Video content uploaded onto websites like YouTube often have a limited amount of meta-data that describes what is in the video.  The absence of that data makes archiving and searching the video content somewhat difficult.

Google, and Truveo (acquired by AOL in ’06) have created tools to try and work around this.    Startup,CastTV, which hopes to compete with a solution of its own, announced a $3.1m Series A financing round yesterday.

The CastTV approach, like Truveo and others, tries to compensate for the lack of meta-data by mining surrounding text content for context.  It also indexes any available tags. The technology then takes it’s combined data and searches the web for any additional data. The whole mix is put into their index and theoretically provides more accurate results.

The company is still in early development.  A private beta test is a few months off and a commercial release not do at least until mid summer based on current press.

Bucks for Brightcove

It’s still very early in the year but today, Cambridge MA based Brightcove announced the closing of the largest venture round of the year.  The two and a half year old Internet TV (and Ad Network) startup closed a $59.5 m series C private placement.  The round added a number of strategic corporate and international investors to Brightcove’s slate of stockholders which now includes:  AOL/Time Warner, General Electric, Accel Partners, Allen & Company, General Catalyst Partners, IAC/Interactive Corp, The New York Times, The Hearst Corporation, Brookside Capital and Transcosmos Investments (Japanese firm which also has money in CinemaNow).

The financing was a private placement in which Morgan Stanley and Allen and Company acted as placement agents. The capital, according to press releases, is earmarked for international expansion.  It may also be used to secure additional partnerships or even efforts toward consolidation in the developing, but crowded Net TV market.  (Brightcove acquired Metastories in March 2006, and could be out to buy up other companies to enhance its offerings).  

Notable to me is not so much the size of the deal (though it’s large) but the involvement from major media companies like the New York Times and Hearst co.  Brightcove has gained the confidence of many traditional media companies and this stands to expand those relationships.

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