Boxee Lands $4 Million

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.

14 thoughts on “Boxee Lands $4 Million”

  1. I’ve been waiting for an alpha invite from but so far they haven’t delivered. If you could send me one, that’d be great! Thanks

  2. It’s not just mpeg2; it’s also the DVD license, Mp3 from fraunhofer, etc. The point about scraping web video (one of the major advantages of boxee over XBMC) is well put. Boxee does show ads from hulu, etc, so I can’t imagine they’re too upset about it, but without a formal agreement they could change their format any time and break Boxee’s support.

    Most importantly, it’s unclear how they intend to generate a revenue stream. I assume (as you do) that they plan to integrate advertisements. That’s all well and good as long as it remains free and the ads are unintrusive, but speaking for myself only, a SINGLE ad would push me away from boxee onto XBMC or plex.

    Alternatively, users could fork boxee without their non-opensource social networking stuff and remove the ads.

    My feeling is that if the ads are unintrusive and the social aspect is popular and integrates with other platforms like facebook, people will accept the ads. But boxee has a long way to go.

  3. If they are running on a Mac or Windows machine there is already an MPEG decoder installed and paid for 99% of the time….

    I would love an invite. Thanks.

  4. That’s true, but boxee doesn’t use directshow or quicktime, it uses an embedded version of ffmpeg in their own custom movie player called (anachronistically) “dvdplayer”.

  5. PLEASE OH PLEASE AN INVITE…I can’t hold out any more been waiting for weeks….please please, will trade food.

  6. That’s impressive. I’m not sure my company (7 yr old biotech) is going to be able to raise any more money in this climate, so congrats to them.
    I’d love an OSX invite in case I’m stuck at home soon watching more TV ;)

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