Boxee Media Center App Gets $4 Million in Funding

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 18, 2008

A few days ago, in a roundup of open source media center applications, I covered Boxee. It's an open source mashup of a sophisticated media center application that can run and organize videos, photos and more on the Mac, AppleTV, Windows (soon) and Linux, and a social networking application. I mentioned that it's one of the most compelling media center applications I've seen, and it appears I'm not alone. Boxee has announced that it has secured $4 million in first round funding, led by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital. Here's why I think Boxee is going to become a household name.

Boxee is in alpha testing now, although anyone can get it by applying for an invitation. The application is poised to capitalize on two big trends: online consumption of video and other multimedia content, and social networking. Unlike your average media center application, Boxee is designed to let you share shows, videos, songs, playlists and more with friends in your social network. You can invite friends to share with, and they can invite you.

Prior to the news of the venture funding it has secured, Boxee announced that it won $50,000 and CES exhibit space in the iStage competition. Boxee users can watch and share everything from Hulu videos to content, and hacks have already appeared for doing compelling things like watching Hulu on Apple TV. Boxee also works very well on HDTVs, with a remarkably slick interface that looks like it was created at Apple. Instructions on running Boxee on AppleTV are here.

One of the partners at Spark Capital has written a send-up of the application on his blog. There, he says:

"Boxee uses the same tiny remote control that comes with all Macs. And the UI is optimized for the televison...But Boxee also has two other things behind it that are important. It’s social. You can see what your friends watch & recommend. Then, with a click, you can enjoy it on your big screen too."

The final gust of wind at the back of this really promising application is that it's free and open, and will run on all major platforms. Boxee officials have said that they will use their funding to strike deals with device manufacturers, so Boxee won't be just an open source download. It will be an open source media platfrom found under the hood in many devices.

Keep your eyes on this one. NewTeeVee has more thoughts, including Boxee's Israeli connections.