Updated. Video blogging pioneer Ze Frank quietly raised around
$756,000 $200,00 late last month from Marc Andreessen, Buzzfeed co-founder John Johnson and Huffington Post co-founder Jonah Peretti. The financing comes just two months after a successful Kickstarter campaign to relaunch his web series that netted close to $150,000. Frank told me that he intends to use the funding to start “a new kind of media company” that develops and produces shows with active audience participation. “I’m obsessed with media and the way audiences can become creative participants,” he said.
Frank became iconic with his daily video show five years ago. In February, he asked fans on Kickstarter to chip in for a comeback: His original goal was to raise $50,000 through the crowdfunding site, but he surpassed in less than eight hours. The campaign ended up bringing in more than $146,000 — and also caught the eye of Andreessen and others. Said Frank via email:
“The level of interest in this sort of show led to interest from investors and led me to think about starting a new kind of media company that could support my show and others – combining media and missions, a blend of watching and doing.”
Peretti will join the board and Frank said and he’s already “signing up media and brand partners.” Part of the work his company is doing is based on Star.me – a kind of gamification site that he launched in early 2011 and that aims to engage audiences with daily missions. Frank raised $500,000 in 2010 for Star.me.
The idea of challenging audiences to complete missions is also key to Frank’s new show, which launched in early April. Frank uses the show to challenge his viewers to tell him their dreams or record music together.
Update: An earlier version of this post incorrectly put the amount raised last month at $756,000 and was based on an SEC filing. Frank has since contacted us to let us know that this total amount includes both the recent $200,00 Series A as well as the 2010 seed funding for his company.