BitTorrent, the once-notorious file sharing service that has been repositioning itself as a legit platform for those in digital media to distribute and collaborate on their content to 170 million users, is taking a step to attract more media startups to its platform. Today, it is launching BitTorrent Acceleration, opening up its lab to startups working in sound, film, live streaming, media sharing, and peer-to-peer technologies. And it will offer marketing and product assistance, user testing services, and in some cases investment and acquisition opportunities.
BitTorrent is not specifying how much it would typically invest in a company in the program, or how likely it would be that it might lead to BitTorrent (or someone else) buying it outright.
“The valuation will be on a case by case basis, based on the stage of the product and what’s best for them. In some cases a long lasting partnership is a better fit than an acquisition,” said Farid Fadaie, director of product development, content initiatives.
Unlike other accelerator programs, BitTorrent will focus on companies for the program that are beyond their earliest stages, and that BitTorrent feels would be good fits for the platform.
“The purpose of this program is to accelerate the growth of companies who already have some traction. We will make our resources available to companies who have the potential to be attractive to our user base,” Fadaie added.
BitTorrent’s Acceleration Program comes on the heels of a number of product launches from the company — all aimed at encouraging more use of its platform.
They have included yesterday’s launch of Sync, an anonymous-style Dropbox competitor; Surf to speed up downloads in browsers (and promote specific content in the process); SoShare for sending extra-large files; and BitTorrent Bundles packaging content together to boost wider product launches (these have been used by authors like Tim Ferriss pushing new books and musicians promoting new albums).
But while these services are already free to use, the accelerator is perhaps the first example of where BitTorrent is actually proposing to put money into getting more interesting content on board, part of its bid to “create a more sustainable distribution model for the Internet’s creators and fans.”
It looks like BitTorrent may also be tapping into the services of some of those already using the platform. “We have some of the best talent in the industry already tackling these areas. This will be an opportunity to gain valuable feedback and input,” a spokesperson added.
One of the promises of the accelerator program is for “advertising and product placement within the BitTorrent ecosystem.” Part of that may have to do with the BitTorrent Bundle offering, which will include some extra content along with whatever a user downloads.
In addition to that, BitTorrent’s search provides a recommendation engine for users to discover content similar to what they’re already downloading on the site.