updated 10:05 am EST, Tue March 1, 2011
Boxee gets 16.5m from Softbank, more
Boxee's media ambitions got a significant help on Tuesday with a $16.5 million cash infusion from a round of partners that included Japanese carrier Softbank. The Boxee Box creator hoped both to improve the content and quality of the Boxee UI but also promised an ambitious hardware expansion. It planned more partners than just Iomega and ViewSonic and eventually hoped to be a complete TV replacement.
"We would also like to see Boxee handle all the video on a TV with no need to switch inputs," CEO Avner Ronen said.
The cash, roughly four times the $6 million Boxee raised to get started, has also led to job recruiting that has given clues as to the company's design strategy. A listing for a Senior User Experience Designer is looking both to steer the interface for the TV and the web but also tablets, pointing to plans for a direct tablet viewer. It's not mentioned which platforms would be supported, although Boxee already has remote control apps for both Android and iOS.
The expansion should be vital for Boxee, whose software has been relatively complete on Macs and Windows PCs but has been fighting to add content to challenge Apple, Microsoft, Roku and others with dedicated hardware. It just recently added Netflix streaming and has previously added Vudu movies. Boxee's selling point has been a front end that streamlines finding and watching web video, but some providers have been reluctant to provide support as it threatens their traditional TV businesses. Boxee has plans to get Hulu Plus but hasn't yet had an implementation go live.