Finally, a Bain Capital story that doesn’t involve the term “vulture capital.” This morning, Blip, a video network highlighting original web series, announced a financing round of more than $12 million. Bain Capital Ventures, Canaan Partners, and other previous investors contributed $6.5 million as well as debt from Silicon Valley Bank totaling about $6 million.
The company, formerly known as Blip.tv, filed a Form D in December of last year, signifying that they had already raised $6 million from Bain and Canaan Partners.
In the press release, Blip claimed revenue had grown 100 percent year-over-year thanks to 13 million monthly uniques in the U.S. and 30 million monthly viewers globally. The new funding, said Blip, will be used to develop tools and services for web series producers, invest in its advertising and distribution platforms, and “significantly expand” syndication relationships.
Betabeat spoke with Blip COO Steve Brookstein to talk about the competition for eyeballs, whether YouTube is a friend or foe, and if he’s voting for Bain founder Mitt Romney.
According to Mr. Brookstein, the search for a new Blip CEO is progressing along. “We’ve seen a number of very strong candidates and hope to have a selection soon,” he said. (Blip CEO and co-founder Mike Hudack took a medical leave from the company last fall. Around the same time, Blip announced the depature of co-founder Dina Kaplan, who had been handling the company’s PR and marketing.)
Although Bain Capital may be making headlines of late, Mr. Brookstein said he doesn’t foresee “any particular rub-off effect” on the company. He pointed out that it was Bain Capital Ventures, a division of the firm that Mitt built, that backed the company. “We think the world of Bain,” said Mr. Brookstein, adding, “I think [Bain's investment] has zero impact on the sideshow going on with Gov. Romney.” Mr. Brookstein declined to specify whether he would consider voting for the presidential hopeful, noting, “I don’t even discuss my voting practices with my wife.”
As for Blip’s destination site, which the company launched in May of last year, Mr. Brookstein said it already represents 12 percent of the company’s “overall monetizable views,” or videos they can run ads on. The destination site features a curated collection of 2,200 of Blip’s 55,000 videos. “But we also have our player distributed on many other platforms.” The site is merely one way, “we can monetize throughout our entire distribution platform,” he said.
The most popular series right now are Day, Smosh, Red vs. Blue, and Nostaliga Critic. Blip doesn’t necessarily have exclusive deals with the web series it showcases, which is why Mr. Brookstein tried to position YouTube rolling out its channel initiative and original content as a good thing. “We work closely with YouTube, in some respects a partner, it’s not really we versus they,” he said. Rather, he reasoned, YouTube is shinning a spotlight on a huge market with room for them both.
So Blip has no competitors, we asked? “To some degree Hulu,” he admitted, or “anyone who is looking for eyeballs.”
In that arena, Blip may have an unexpected leg up, at the annual 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, Blip beat out Hulu, Dailymotion, Crackle, and Joost to win “Best Distribution Platform” from the International Academy of Web Television. In other news: web TV has its own international academy! Who knew?