Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Boxee News – More Funding and a More Focused Vision

Today Boxee announced an additional $6M in funding for its HTPC software program.  In addition they announced their planned focus for the future and the hire of a full-time Marketing Head, Andrew Kippen.

The $6M in funding is on top of quite a bit of previous private equity investments in Boxee.  The press release talks of not only the new funding but also how they hope that the new investor “General Catalyst” brings a better connection to the big media & cable companies.

From the press release:

General Catalyst brings more than just money to the table. We wanted a partner to help us as we strengthen our relationships with big media and cable companies. Neil and General Catalyst as a firm have years of experience, deep understanding, and extensive network in these industries, and we are looking forward to working together with them. 

Going forward we plan to focus on:

    * Improving the product – We are working on the Beta release (due later this fall), but also looking beyond Beta and into the roadmap of 2010. The idea is to have a healthy mix of development driven by user feedback (which is the essence of the upcoming Beta) and innovation that comes from within Boxee.

    * Adding more content – We believe Boxee can be a great partner for independent content producers as well as big media companies. We will try to bring more TV Shows, Web Shows and Movies from ad-based, subscription-based and a la carte type services.

    * Attracting more developers – While we have an App Store on Boxee, we know it needs some love. For Developers, we know it needs to be easier to develop and monetize apps. For users, we’re going to make it easier to find apps on Boxee. Last but not least we’re going to extend the APIs so everyone can do more with Boxee.

    * Bringing Boxee into devices – Boxee today is mostly serving a tech-savvy audience – those who feel comfortable connecting a computer to a TV. To make Boxee more accessible for a mainstream consumer it’s important for us to get Boxee embedded into connected TVs and Blu-Ray players, game consoles and set-top boxes. We’re already talking to device makers to ensure Boxee works on a variety of platforms for 2010.

Here’s my takeaways from the announcement:

  1. Boxee has some big investors who expect a return.  Lots of pressure, but lots of opportunity as well.  It’s really encouraging though that these big-time investors still see promise in the HTPC and Media Player market.
  2. Monetization is more and more of a focus for Boxee and their investors.  Their time to live on spending money without earning money will come sooner than later and that has to be an incredible amount of pressure on the team.
  3. There is a focus on getting the content HTPC users yearn for and that does require good relationships with big media as well as playing by those big media rules.  This one should be interesting to watch.
  4. The mention of moving Boxee outward to the TV (less Computer-centric) and therefore more mainstream is important.  Take notice of this as this likely will be a very big focus for Boxee and probably drive their success one way or another.

What do you think?  After Boxee had the “run-in” with Hulu a lot of the “wow” factor went away for some, but I think its still a very viable freeware HTPC app.  Do you agree?

Full press release at the Boxee Blog