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Digital media browser software firm Boxee has received $4 million in its first round of funding. The round was led by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital. The open-source software scans and brings all kinds of multimedia from a user’s computer or network into the application, lets users stream content from other sites like Hulu and CBS (NYSE: CBS), and adds a pretty browsing layer. It can also be installed on devices like AppleTV to post that content to the TV.
NY-based Boxee will use the funds to negotiate deals with device manufacturers, a la what Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) has been trying to do with its online movie service. The service is still in alpha stage, so not yet ready to launch commercially.
Spark partner Bijan Sabet wrote about the funding on his blog, touting Boxee’s “social” components (users can share their favorite clips and get recommendations from friends), as well as its openness: the software is accessible to third-party developers (hence the AppleTV hack). But that open interface might be both a gift and a curse for Boxee — as the various set-top box developers (particularly Apple) may have qualms about letting unsolicited third-parties into their ecosystem. Plus there’s the curse of trying to scale another dedicated desktop media app, when tons are already there on any user’s system.