Internet content distributor GridNetworks landed $9.5 million in Series A funding this week. While one of the three investors is Panorama Capital, the other two backers pique my curiosity because their identities haven’t yet been disclosed… and I get the sense they may be something other than VC firms.
Chances are you haven’t heard of GridNetworks and, prior to speaking with CEO Tony Naughtin, I hadn’t either. They’ve developed an “orchestrated, managed” hybrid P2P – CDN service to stream Internet video at up to 1080i with high fidelity audio and requiring throughput of only 768Kbps down and 128Kbps up. They’re currently operating as a white label service provider for some smaller Internet TV plays, though their goals are more lofty. I think we’ll be seeing GridNetworks go after big media and telecom as they continue to ramp up and offer video streaming services at literally a “small fraction” of the conventional CDN-served video cost. Though, as my pal Om notes, the market has become “highly competitive.”
Today GridNetworks provides solely a Windows P2P client (GridConnector) and media player, but early next year cross-platform Silverlight software will be released. Additionally, as dictated by clients (or perhaps those silent investors), they intend to embed their technology in home routers and even set-top boxes (think Vudu or even traditional VOD) – bypassing the computer altogether. Currently Windows Media Video (MS DRM) is the format of choice, though other content and technologies could be incorporated depending on partner requirements.