Investors Hand Joost More Money

Nascent online television service Joost has raised an additional $45 million from five new investors, including Index Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Hutchison Whampoa chair Li Ka-shing, along with current content partners CBS and Viacom. Joost plans to use the money to accellerate its expansion and service offerings, develop localizations, and speed product development.

“This funding represents a tremendous vote of confidence in Joost’s platform,” said Joost co-founder Janus Friis, in a release. “We’ve carefully selected these investors from a variety of interested parties, as they are best-in-class in their respective arenas and bring unique assets to Joost that will enable us to significantly accelerate growth and development of the company.”

Joost was founded by Friis and Niklas Zennstroem, who previously founded VoIP success Skype and also had a hand in developing peer-to-peer file sharing (and malware-inundated) service Kazaa.

CBS has already committed more than 2,000 hours of entertainment, news, and sports programming to Joost, while Viacom—tagged as a “Key Launch Partner”—is offering content from its wide range of catalog and current television and movie offerings. The two companies represent Joost’s largest content partners to date, although Warner Bros. Television recently signed on as a content partner.

The question is whether Joost can convert the goodwill (and dollars) of its investors and its just-launched service into a revenue-generating operation. Although Joost perports to combine full-screen, high-performance Internet-based television and video from around the world with contemporary online features and social networking features like tagging, discussion boards, and community interaction, the jury remains out on whether the service will develop traction in the Internet community. Although broadband is increasingly available to many Internet users, online video successes like YouTube have so far been limited to easy-to-digest, quick-to-download short clips and segments: movie and television programming may not translate as well to the computer screen, even with interactive features. Nonetheless, Joost is keen to give its vision of full-screen broadcast-quality television a go—and investors appear to be willing to tag along.

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