Flingo, a major publisher of Smart TV apps, has secured an additional $1 million for its Series A investment round led by Mark Cuban and Gary Lauder.
The company had previously locked up $7 million for the round, led by August Capital, but Flingo CEO and co-founder Ashwin Navin, a co-founder of Bit Torrent, wanted more “breathing room.”
He then ran into Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, chairman of HDNet and a frequent investor in technology and media companies, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this January.
“I was coming back to our booth and recognized him so we sat and talked for about 20 minutes,” Navin told TheWrap. “He loved what we were doing and it didn’t take him long to figure it out. He saw some differences between our strategy and everything else in the connected TV space.”
Flingo is a publisher of Smart TV apps – apps for Internet-enabled televisions – and it will use this latest round of funding to staff up, build out its infrastructure and delve further into the “second screen” space. That means apps and other content on laptops, phones and tablets that one uses while watching television.
The company attempts to merge the TV experience with what happens on the second screen. It uses audio software to recognize what is on TV, providing web content that corresponds to it. Viewers can also use web platforms like Twitter or Facebook through the TV, entering a conversation about a show instantaneously.
According to Navin, embracing the linear TV watching experience and building products around it – rather than trying to upend it – separates Flingo from other companies. The "second screen" space is a crowded one, with companies like GetGlue, Miso, Shazam and IntoNow (now owned by Yahoo) all competing for eyeballs.
“Efforts to treat cable and traditional media as just one of many things are difficult to execute on,” Navin said. “We should be using technology to enhance that experience rather than compete.”
Cuban’s own statement on the investment echoed that sentiment.
“I am excited to be part of the Flingo experience,” he said in a statement. “I truly believe the future of TV is TV and Flingo will be one of the companies out front.”
Flingo has partnerships with major television manufacturers like Samsung and LG, integrating its software into their hardware. It is available on more than 8.5 million screens and hopes to increase that as part of the continued growth of Smart TV. It also has partnerships with Fox, Showtime and CBS.
As for the other lead investor, Lauder is the managing director of Lauder Partners LLC, a venture capital firm based in Atherton, California.
“They are both very strong operators and investors in both video and technology,” Navin said.