Social entertainment network GetGlue has just raised a significant round of $12 million in new financing, led by new investor Rho Ventures. The company’s existing investors, TimeWarner, RRE Ventures and Union Square Ventures, also participated in this round. The company had previously raised $6 million in November 2010.
The NYC-based company, which launched way back in 2008, has gone through many iterations since then. It now focuses on allowing users to share their activities, like watching a TV show, reading a book, seeing a movie and more, and then comment, reply or vote on comments from others who are doing the same thing.
The service is available online (desktop and mobile) as well as on mobile apps for iOS and Android. Over 30 major media companies now use GetGlue (via its API) to integrate the network’s user activity into their own websites and apps. These include Fox, NBC, Showtime, HBO and DirectTV, which offers a “first screen” experience that allows you to check-in to the program you’re viewing using your remote control.
In addition, over 75 major television networks work with GetGlue to reward fans of their 680 popular shows with stickers and discounts. The group, which includes major networks like ABC, CW, FOX, NBC, A&E, ABC Family, AMC, BRAVO, CNN, Discovery, Food Network, FX, HBO, MTV, Showtime, TNT, and USA, also uses GetGlue’s backend monitoring and analytics offerings to track engagement levels among their shows’ fans.
Over the past year, GetGlue has seen incredible growth. At the beginning of the year, the network had 750,000 users. It now has 2 million. Check-ins grew 1000% over 2011 and crossed the 100 million mark by year-end. And GetGlue’s database of check-ins, ratings and comments has over 350 million entries.
Some of GetGlue’s most recent efforts have been behind the scenes. For example, in September, the company introduced a curation feature that uses homegrown NLP (natural language processing) algorithms to automatically filter and hide comments on TV shows to reduce the “noise.” This includes automatically hiding profane speech and other short-form comments. After implementing the change, GetGlue saw engagement levels climb by 50%. Now, every three or four comments will include a vote or reply.
Although GetGlue offers you the ability to check in to a number of activities – and that’s not going away anytime soon – the main focus is on the social TV experience, an increasingly hot focus these days. Says CEO Alex Iskold, TV is clearly the biggest area of interest for the service’s users, followed by sports, movies and then all the rest.
The additional funding will be used mainly for product development, says Iskold, as the plan is to keep the company’s 40-person team as small as possible.
The company is also planning to launch updated apps, for iPad, Android tablets and possibly the Kindle Fire in the new year.