Canadian startup You.i has landed $12 million in Series B funding in a round led by Time Warner Investments, with plans to use the funds its global sales channels and IP.
Existing investor Vistara Capital Partners and new investor Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors joined in the round.
In a blog post, You.i CEO Jason Flick called the infusion of cash more than just “another TV infrastructure investment,” pointing to the critical role user interfaces are playing in the new TV business.
“TV and media companies are aggressively looking for ways to redefine the viewing experience on devices big and small,” he wrote. “Users have turned the rules of engagement on its ear, dictating what they want to watch, when and where they want to watch it… the race to unlock how to gain and retain user attention is on.”
Scott Levine, Managing Director, Time Warner Investments, will join the You.i TV Board.
“Conversations about UI are heating up like never before,” Trisha Cooke, VP of marketing for You.i told me at IBC, adding that the Ottawa, Ontario-based operation “still acts like a start up.”
“But we’re challenging everything we’re doing, every assumption we’ve made and asking, ‘Does this make sense?’ It’s what we have to do if we want to continue to be attractive to the large guys (in the space),” she said.
You.i has a few big customers, including Sony Crackle, the shomi SVOD service shared by Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications in Canada, and Turner brands including TNT, TBS, and Turner Classic Movie (TCM)’s soon to be released direct-to-consumer app, FilmStruck.
Turner, in fact, is standardizing its application development on the You.i Engine platform.
The company has seen strong growth, Cooke said, with sales up 100% in three years and head count – now about 185 – expected to top 200 by the end of the year.
You.i in August added a COO, industry veteran Dan Beer, to help scale the business globally; after this latest round of funding, it appears he’ll have a little extra cash to help.
User interface is an evolving beast, one that has created a lot of discussion as companies have looked for ways to be less obtrusive in the user experience, helping users find and navigate through content without overwhelming them.
It’s a delicate balance and one that pay-TV operators, broadcasters, content owners and OTT players all are carefully exploring.
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