Shifts Into Gear

Car enthusiast video sharing site has just raised $6.1 million in Series A funding, and the site is putting the pedal to the metal, streaming nearly 1 million videos a day to 2 million car enthusiasts a month.

The story of Streetfire reads like the stuff of American business folklore. Back in 1999, a bunch of car nuts got together to build a “CNET for cars.” But the dot-com bust caused their plans to sputter. So they regrouped, refocused and launched what they claim was the first online video-sharing system back in February of 2005 — one month before YouTube. I talked with Chris Jones, VP of business development at Streetfire, to find out what he’s going to do with that funding — and what kind of car he drives.

Streetfire is actually only half of the company. The other half, Vidiac, does video hosting for niche sites, similar to Brightcove or For example, a site dedicated to Camaros could host video free of charge through the Vidiac site (Vidiac does take the ad revenue). But the company is moving away from that side of the business, and the recent funding will go into growing Streetfire, the consumer site.

While he won’t reveal who Streetfire’s new investors are, when asked what the company is doing with the money, Jones said, “We’re looking to form partnerships with ‘tier 1’ content producers and podcasters. Get them to put the stuff on us instead of YouTube.” It’s an interesting (though not uncommon) move, since Streetfire was built on UGC. Other plans for the future include building out more features like photos and a social networking component.

The company pulled in $600,000 in ad revenues in 2006, and Jones says it is on track to do more than $1 million in 2007. While the site runs banner ads, has experimented with post-roll ads, and is considering overlay ads, one thing Jones is adamant about is not using pre-rolls. “They’re off the table, they’re just too intrusive,” he said.

Streetfire has found its niche in the video world and is off to the races, so to speak. And what type of car does Jones drive? A ’65 Shelby Cobra (it’s his “toy” car, he said).