Qwiki, the visual search startup that won the top prize at TechCrunch Disrupt last September is in the middle of raising as much as $8 million in a series A financing. According to an SEC filing, it has already sold $5 million worth of the round. Both venture capital firms and individuals are investing. It appears that a large part of the round ($4 million so far) is being taken up by a pooled investment fund from Felix Venture Partners, at least according to this separate SEC filing. The company is still raising money to complete the round.
Qwiki has already raised $1.5 million in seed capital from angel investors including Keith Rabois (from PayPal, Slide, and now Sqaure), Shervin Pishevar (SGN), an Jawed Karim (the third YouTube founder), and Elad Gil (Google, now Twitter). The company was founded by Doug Imbruce and Louis Monier (who founded AltaVista).
The service is still technically in alpha, although it’s been opening up. It presents information in a highly visual way, assembling photos and spoken text from Wikipedia and other sources to create visual guides to millions of topics. Following its debut at Disrupt, the company fielded acquisition offers, but is now raising its series A to more fully develop the product. I still can’t wait for Qwiki to officially come to the iPad. Below is a video of Qwiki’s first demo at Disrupt.
Qwiki is an industry leader in automated video production. Most recently, Qwiki released an iPhone app that automatically turns the pictures and videos from a user’s camera roll into brief, beautiful movies to share. The company’s initial product, an iPad application that created video summaries of over 3 million search terms, was downloaded more than 3 million times and named by Apple as the best Search and Reference application of 2011. After integrating this technology in the Bing Search...