I had originally told the Boxee team I was going to pass on this news, that the typical end-user isn’t so concerned with company financing. However, as you can see, I obviously changed my mind. As a refresher, Boxee software is based on the open-source XBMC platform and enables a wide variety of media playback, local files and web video, plus adds a layer of social interactivity.
There are a few things which make this initial $4 million investment notable. Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital must believe there’s plenty of room for innovation in this space and that Boxee is breaking new ground… with revenue generating potential, perhaps through advertising and licensing dealios. All of which I agree with. The funding is also notable because there’s some risk involved. Open source software, such as XBMC, will often take certain liberties that a legit company cannot. As in, a MPEG2 decoder needs to be licensed. Also, a good deal of what makes Boxee interesting is pretty much unsupported – a hack to run Boxee on Apple TV and scraping of web video (Hulu, CBS, etc) without formal distribution deals. Having said that, cash (hard to come by in the current climate) makes many more things possible and serves to validate their approach with potential partners and potential users.
So, congrats to the Boxee team. And if you’re still looking for an OS X or Linux alpha invite, leave a comment and I’ll see that you’re taken care of. Rumor has it Windows support is also coming soon, though I’d like to see them ultimately and legitimately move away from the computer… and into the mainstream.