By Evan DeSimone
Live social network YouNow, which uses live streaming and interactive technology to connect audiences with broadcasters, announced today that it has raised $15 million in new funding.
The round for lead by previous investors in YouNow including VC firm Venrock and noted tech investor Oren Zeev, an early backer startups such as Chegg, Houzz, Audible and Tipalti. Joining for this latest round of funding is Comcast Ventures, which has been increasingly involved in the digital video and media space with investments in content studio AltVR and mobile live streaming platform Meerkat, among a host of others.
Venrock Partner, David Pakman, who also staked the company in its series B round, described the investment in YouNow as a bet on an increasingly social future for video saying in a statement, “YouNow, like Snapchat, Instagram and many of the most successful social products, has captured the imagination of millions of teens worldwide. We are proud to lead this round with Oren Zeev and to work with Adi to help him continue to build YouNow into a thriving global community platform for self-expression and communication. As younger audiences flock to mobile/social products, it is exciting to be involved with such a vibrant and successful one.”
Part of what makes YouNow stand out is its partner program. Taking a page from the handbook which once made YouTube the king of video sharing, YouNow splits revenue with broadcasters allowing them to earn money by generating audience. The same strategy that allowed YouTube to breed a community of professional digital content creators is helping YouNow to cultivate a dedicated community of streaming broadcasters capable of commanding substantial and desirable audiences. The service currently boasts 100 million user sessions a month and over 50,000 hours of new live-video content created every day.
Originally launched in 2011 by entrepreneur Adi Sideman, YouNow absorbed popular live streaming service BlogTV in 2013. The company debuted its revenue sharing partner program in 2014 and has captured the attention of some of the web’s most influential digital creators and personalities as a route to monetization.
Sideman touted the deal with Comcast Ventures as a sign of YouNow’s potential and rapid growth, noting, “The addition of Comcast Ventures to our family of backers underscores our success in building a real-time social network that fulfills the needs of a younger, digitally savvy generation that is eager to participate in media and not just consume it. We are proud that many of our creators make their livings live-broadcasting on YouNow. We urge creative people to broadcast on YouNow and find their audience.”