Jinni Media, the company behind the Jinni.com video discovery and recommendation engine, has raised $1.6 million in its first round of funding. DFJ Tamir Fishman Ventures led the round; Israel-based Jinni previously raised an undisclosed amount of angel funding.
Founded in 2007, Jinni aims to match people with movies based on criteria like moods, genres and even time periods; the service makes recommendations based on semantic cues in the words they search for, as well as the choices users select on their own, over time. The company is developing a “movie genome” — much like the “music genome” that powers Pandora’s automatic playlists — that can classify movies in a granular way that keywords just can’t. The new money will give Jinni some breathing room while it tests out a variety of business models.
The first is to license its technology to cable and satellite providers, and let them use it to enhance their VOD and online streaming platforms; CEO Michael Pohl tells Light Reading that this is a more feasible route than trying to work with all the different set-top box makers — at least initially. Jinni has already brokered deals with SeaChange International and OpenTV.
Another option would be to offer a premium version of its service for viewers. Jinni currently lets people manage their Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) queues for free; they could pay extra for enhanced features, including streaming video subscriptions, rentals and downloads. Lastly, there are potential retail partnerships. Pohl said the company hopes to partner with Best Buy and Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI) to get integrated in their VOD platforms; he hinted that people could even see Jinni recommendation apps in Redbox kiosks at some point.