'Lonelygirl' Gets Popular With Investors
Producers of the Internet-video serial "lonelygirl15" -- once thought to be an amateur project but later revealed to be the product of professionals -- have raised $5 million from prominent technology investors to expand and introduce new online shows.
The new funding for EQAL, the Los Angeles company behind "lonelygirl" and another popular Internet drama, "KateModern," illustrates Silicon Valley's continuing push to move video onto the Web and find better ways to make money from it. Though the online-video industry got a big boost after Google Inc. bought video site YouTube for $1.6 billion two years ago, many companies are still struggling to come up with viable revenue models.
Todd Dagres, a partner at Spark Capital, the Boston-based firm that led EQAL's round of financing, said the studio understands that "the Web is not TV, and you can't advertise like you do on TV."
Instead, EQAL, formerly known as LG15 Studios and led by Chief Executive Miles Beckett and President Greg Goodfried, plans to weave advertising into the content of their shows, Mr. Dagres said, and also to interact with its community of viewers.
Other investors putting cash into EQAL include Silicon Valley's Ron Conway, who backed Google in its early days; Marc Andreessen, the co-founder of browser pioneer Netscape Communications; Conrad Riggs, a Hollywood producer involved with TV shows such as "Survivor" and "The Apprentice"; and Georges Harik, a former Google executive.
Mr. Goodfried said EQAL is profitable, even though it has survived thus far with limited funding, including some money provided by Mr. Beckett's parents and the "brand integration" deals the men have struck with advertisers who wanted their products mentioned or shown in lonelygirl15 and KateModern.
"Lonelygirl" gained popularity on YouTube and "KateModern," set in London, has a deal to be distributed by Bebo, the social-networking site recently purchased by Time Warner Inc.'s AOL. Current and previous advertisers on the shows have included Procter & Gamble Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.
In the original "lonelygirl" season in 2006, Johnson & Johnson's Neutrogena got a plug when a scientist from the company was woven into the plot.
The show's main first-season character, Bree, was killed off last year.
[Via - StartupJournal.Com]