Social TV start-up GetGlue closes a $12 million round but it has plenty of competition.
GetGlue CEO Alex Iskold
GetGlue, the fledgling social network for TV watchers and other entertainment, has raised $12 million in new financing from new and existing investors.
The two-year-old company's apps and website lets its two million registered users check in to TV shows and other entertainment while chatting to other people and picking up recommendations. It generated 100 million check-ins during 2011 and says it now has a database of more than 350 million check-ins, ratings and reviews.
Rho Ventures led the new investment, which follows a $6 million funding round in November 2010. Previous investors Time Warner, RRE Ventures and Union Square Ventures all participated in the new round too.
"This is a major event for GetGlue, a big vote of confidence from investors, and a huge opportunity to continue to play a defining role in the social TV space," said CEO Alex Iskold in a blog post.
The competition is likely to be fierce: Yahoo acquired social TV start-up IntoNow in April 2011 for a reported $20 to $30 million and brought it to the iPad in November. According to Nielsen, more than 70 percent of tablet owners and 68 percent of smartphone owners say they use their devices while watching TV much of the time to look up content about a show, piece of news, that they are watching. Comcast launched a social TV app called Tunerfish in 2010.
And in December, San Francisco-based Miso, founded in March 2010, raised $4 million from Khosla Venture, Google Ventures, and Hearst Interactive Media. Earlier, it received seed funding from YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim and ane handful of early Google employees.
GetGlue has deals with 75 networks, including ABC, Fox, NBC, CNN, Discovery, HBO, MTV and Showtime, promoting 680 shows. Fans who check-in and rate content receive rewards such as virtual stickers and actual gifts for checking in, while the networks are hoping to take home valuable user traffic data.
About the new year, Iskold wrote that GetGlue has "big plans for 2012 and beyond." Among other things, "we are working on building a more personalized, media-rich second screen experience for phones, tablets and GetGlue.com," he said.
He told Reuters the company's current business model is advertising and is working on ad sponsorship campaigns with big brands like Gap, Coke, and Gatorade. Last year brands such as Pepsi, Coke and the Gap sponsored GetGlue show rewards and content. But the company also is hoping to make money off sharing the user data.
GetGlue is founder Alex Iskold's second big start-up. His first, called Information Laboratory, helped people find bugs in their code. IBM bought it in 2003.
Iskold arrived in the U.S. from the Ukraine in 1991 and first worked as a programmer on Wall Street. GetGlue was a pivot from a company called AdaptiveBlue, which Iskold founded in 2007 as a browser-based social network for entertainment.
"It was pretty successful numbers-wise, but it didn't really have an emotional connection the way that GetGlue does," he told Ad Age. It pivoted to GetGlue in November 2009.
Why the name?
Iskold explained: "We wanted but couldn't get the Glue.com URL, and so at the time we figured we could have a placeholder. We said, "Why don't we just call it GetGlue?" and we kind of laughed it off at first and thought it was a silly thing. But then the name definitely stuck."
Inc. contributing editor COURTNEY RUBIN was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.