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Wibbitz Raises $2.3M Series A For Technology That Turns Text Into Videos

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Wibbitz, a company whose tagline once called it the “play button for the web” (it’s now just “text-to-video”) has closed a $2.3 million Series A round headed up by Horizons Ventures, the internet and technology investment fund belonging to Li Ka-shing. Also participating in the round were previous investors, Initial Capital and lool Ventures.

The service is somewhat similar to former TechCrunch Disrupt winner Qwiki, as it also automatically generates videos based on the content found on websites, but the twist is that it’s designed for use by publishers who want to offer quick, digestible video summaries of their articles’ content.

(Disclosure: regular TechCrunch contributor Roi Carthy is a Managing Partner at Initial Capital). 

The company raised a seed round of approximately half a million back in September 2011, which included Initial Capital, lool Ventures, and Kima Ventures. At the time, Wibbitz reported having 1,600 sites which had been testing a more basic form of the service during a private beta period. Today, the company says that more than 20,000 sites have now generated videos using the version of Wibbitz that was launched that fall.

To implement Wibbitz on their websites, publishers only need to add a single line of JavaScript code. Once implemented, Wibbitz takes the article’s text and creates a video summary using images from its own library or a public image bank on the web where images licensed under Creative Commons (i.e., OK for re-use) are available. Unlike many automated solutions, the end product does not sound all that robotic.

The video can be shared by viewers to Facebook and Twitter or it can embedded elsewhere on the web. Because the videos are created with HTML5, they work in any modern browser on PCs, Macs, smartphones or tablets.

Since the launch of its new player, Wibbitz has improved upon its video creation methods and algorithms, and has introduced a one-click solution for creating videos. The company is now working on a premium publisher solution which will allow any publisher to create video content in a scalable manner. “Several brand name players” are on board, says Dayan.

But Wibbitz isn’t just about content summaries, it’s about monetizing text content in new ways. The service allows publishers monetize their videos through pre-roll advertising. When asked how that was going, Wibbitz co-founder and CEO Zohar Dayan said “traction is very high and is growing at a very impressive rate on a daily basis.” He declined to offer specific numbers on advertising metrics on the split between the free and premium (paying) users on Wibbitz, however. But given the new funding, there must be something there to pique investors’ interest.

With the infusion of new capital, Dayan says that the team will further the commercialization of the technology, will expand its R&D in Israel and will open offices in NYC.