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Having raised new venture funding last week, Boxee now plans to expand in to Europe whilst launching the payment platform that will become its main business model.
The internet TV software startup is hiring Wil Stephens, CEO of the UK interactive design agency Cube, as VP of international business development, to build out its operations.
“Sixty percent of our users are here in the U.S., but Canada, UK, Netherlands, Norway and Germany are all up there in the top 10,” marketing VP Andrew Kippen told paidContent:UK. “We want to go in and figure out what are those five services that are key to adoption to bring on board in each of those regions. In the UK, it may be Lovefilm; in the Nordics, it could be Headweb; for music, it could be Spotify.”
In the U.S., Boxee carries content services from Vudu, Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) and others, including web-based services. In the UK, the main TV networks are showing increasing inclination to syndicate their branded VOD services to third-party boxes, like Sony’s Playstation 3.
Using the new $16.5 million investment, the announcement for which didn’t allude to international expansion, Boxee will add 15 to 20 new staff, Kippen said – half of them overseas, in Europe and Tel Aviv; the rest in America.
Although Boxee last year tapped D-Link to make a Boxee-branded set-top box, neither hardware nor white-labeling its software are its raison d’etre, Kippen said, though each figure. Boxee’s main model will be a payment platform, now due to debut in Q2, that will let viewers pay for video from independent internet creators and major studios alike.
“Whatever transaction we process, we will take 20 percent,” Kippen said, saying lone film makers could sell their wares. CBS (NYSE: CBS) has become a confirmed partner for the system, which it has been testing with Boxee, though details of a launch configuration are under wraps. The idea is, Boxee wants to facilitate paid online video delivery for content owners, many of which are themselves increasingly keen on transactional VOD. This could please players like Hulu, which last year blocked Boxee from carrying shows from its free service. Negotiations to carry the premium Hulu Plus, though not the free version, are ongoing.
This will require negotiation and contractual arrangements, rather than just adding in such services willy-nilly without consultation, so it may be fitting that Boxee’s New York office building is also home to several law firms. Boxee wants to “create an ecosystem where those guys feel comfortable in the ecosystem”, Kippen said.
The D-Link Boxee box, retailed mostly online sold out its first batch. New boxes with Boxee software aboard are due – an Iomega TV box in early Q2 and a Viewsonic TV with integrated Boxee.
Stephens’ Cube will retain its current management team, including former Virgin Mobile (NYSE: VM) director Gwyn Roberts, its director. Cube is bidding to be Cardiff’s local TV operator, using spectrum it licensed from Ofcom in 2009.