Canaan Partners has led a $5.25 million first round investment in Cellcast Asia Holdings, an interactive digital broadcaster. In India, Cellcast produces live, interactive pay-to-play programming like Bid2Win in India, and leverages the mobile extensively. Interestingly, they had launched PlayTV in association with Zee, but exited that venture, choosing to become channel agnostic. The investment will be used to accelerate Cellcast’s growth and customer acquisition in India. Alok Mittal, MD Canaan Partners India and Maha Ibrahim, General Partner at Canaan will join the board of Cellcast Asia. Cellcast Asia is a subsidiary of UK based, AIM listed Cellcast PLC. As per the release, “Cellcast Plc has injected 100% of its shares in Cellcast India and the entirety of its 50% holding in its SE Asian based Joint Venture. Cellcast India was established in November 2005 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cellcast plc.” This values the enlarged share capital of Cellcast Asia at $13.5m. Cellcast will hold 37.5% of the new business worth $5.1m, compared with an investment cost of $1.4m, while Canaan will hold 38.9%. This is Canaan’s fourth investment, after Bharatmatrimony (2006), iYogi (April 2007) and TechTribe (May 2008).
Do read our interview with Cellcast India CEO Pankaj Thakar in Jan here. Thakar had said then that the company will focus on connecting TV, Internet and mobile, and be channel agnostic. He expects the ecosystem of user generated content on TV to evolve by Q4 of 2007. Cellcast had also launched a website Sumo.in, for collecting user videos that they intend to use for TV shows..they seem to have put that plan on hold, since Sumo.in now redirects to Sumo.tv, their UK site.