Joost, the once-hyped-but-struggling-for-relevance online video firm started by Skype founders, has made an interesting move with one of its minority investors: it has launched a Chinese version with Tom Group, with local language content from the likes of CCTV, China Record Corp, BTV Media, CAV Warner Home Entertainment and Huayi Brothers Media Group. I briefly ran into Joost CEO Mike Volpi at the Fortune conference today, and he alluded to some of the plans. We are hearing from sources that the firm has closed its new round of funding in the last couple of months, though there has been skepticism about the firm’s future prospects with competition and some early product mis-steps. Li Ka-shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa and majority owner of Tom Group, invested in Joost last year through his charitable foundation, the Li Ka Shing Foundation.
With this deal, Tom will be selling advertising for the localized version of Joost, while Joost will provide the underlying technology. The service enters a very crowded online video market, with a slew of big-money back online video startups in the country…see some of the funding in our China section. The deal also comes amidst some regulatory moves from the Chinese government, which has been tightening restrictions and developed a licensing system for online video providers in the country. Is it too little too late for Joost? Certainly Tom’s reach and influence will help in China…More details on the deal here.
Update: Reuters: By June, Chinese authorities had issued licenses to 247 companies, including Tom Online. A Joost spokeswoman said the JV would also be allowed to operate in China.