SAN MATEO, Calif., April 26 — Video monetization technology company FreeWheel today announced it has closed $16.8 million in strategic institutional funding. New investor Steamboat Ventures, a venture capital firm affiliated with The Walt Disney Company, joined existing investors Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., Battery Ventures, and Foundation Capital to complete the $16.8 million round.
FreeWheel’s technology enables global media companies and content distributors to effectively manage ad sales rights, produce accurate inventory forecasts for live or on demand content, deliver a yield-optimized set of ads, and analyze video business performance. With the latest version of its flagship product, Monetization Rights Management® (MRM), the company offers capabilities developed to address TV Everywhere initiatives, including advanced commercial break pattern management.
“We’ve been huge believers in FreeWheel from the very start, since the team identified a big hole in the market and started building the business from our offices in Menlo Park,” said Roger Lee, general partner at Battery Ventures. “We look at thousands of companies each year and invest in only a handful. We truly believe in the potential for this industry, and it’s clear that FreeWheel is far and away the leader in this space.”
The new funds will enable FreeWheel to further scale its infrastructure to support new and existing clients, expand that infrastructure globally, and continue to innovate with new products to solve the converging video industry’s biggest pain points.
“Multiple screens and their ability to distribute information are everywhere, and digital video growth remains a key element of Turner’s overall digital strategy,” said David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. “FreeWheel’s ability to effectively serve video ads for our leading online digital brands will further enhance Turner’s ability to maximize revenue potential. We’re confident that our alliance will not only protect our content investment but also enable new business opportunities.”
FreeWheel’s progress over the last two years optimizing the global management and monetization of online premium video has been tremendous,” said Dan Beldy, managing director of Steamboat Ventures. “They have built a differentiated service uniquely suited to premium publishers. Digital video ad serving and ad rights management is a growing market with enormous potential, especially as television content becomes increasingly portable. FreeWheel has the right platform to meet the advertising needs of its major media clients, and we are excited to be working with them.”
FreeWheel has added numerous high-profile media clients in the past year, including Turner, VEVO, MLB.com, and Discovery Communications. Since it was founded in 2007, FreeWheel has rapidly scaled to serve over two billion ad impressions per month and recently launched the PAVE Initiative, a partner program representing systems integrations with over 70 companies in the digital video space. FreeWheel has grown to over 90 full time employees with offices in San Mateo, New York, and Beijing.
“We are honored to add Steamboat Ventures to our esteemed investor set,” said Doug Knopper, co-founder and co-CEO of FreeWheel. “We’ve grown faster than anyone predicted and added amazing clients along the way — some of the largest media companies in the world. We believe we can ultimately monetize content that runs on every platform and every screen. It’s an incredibly exciting time for us and we’re proud of this showing of support.”
Concurrent with this investment, Mr. Beldy will join Trish Jones of Turner Broadcasting to sit on FreeWheel’s Board of Directors as an observer.
FreeWheel offers the most formidable system for digital video ad management and monetization. Built from the ground up by a handful of former DoubleClick executives, FreeWheel’s solution-set has already armed companies like Turner Broadcasting System, Warner Brothers, CBS, VEVO, Discovery Communications, and others with the tools and services necessary to make more money from their video content. For more information, please visit: www.freewheel.tv. Follow the company on Twitter @FreeWheeldotTV.