Over the course of the last few years, few companies have done more to help content owners and brands understand how fans are interacting with their content on YouTube and other social platforms than ZEFR. Now the company is looking to scale its business even further, with $30 million in new funding led by Institutional Venture Partners.
Founded in late 2009 as Movieclips, the company originally set out to help movie studios monetize content they had stored in their vaults. But over time, the business morphed to provide content owners advanced tools for monitoring and monetizing videos that were posted to YouTube by fans.
It was in mid-2012 that the company rebranded as ZEFR to provide a platform for identifying user-submitted videos in real-time and making money off of them.
With that technology, it racked up clients like UMG, Sony Music, Ultra Music, NASCAR, Warner Bros, Saturday Night Live, Sony Music, Real Madrid, and Universal Pictures, among others.
Last year, ZEFR realized that it could apply a lot of the same content identification tools that it had already built out and apply it to brands to help them understand how users were interacting with their content, and submitting their own fan videos.
To that end, it rolled out its BrandID product, and has been steadily signing up brand and ad agency clients to help them engage with customers. That got brands like Adidas and agencies like Wieden & Kennedy and Starcom on board.
All of that has been working out smashingly for the company. In fact, it’s increased revenue by 100 percent year-over-year for each of the last three years. To keep up with its technical challenges and introduce new products, it recently doubled the size of its engineering team and opened an office in New York City.
But the company knows that it can do more. Hence, the new financing.
The $30 million Series D round of funding brings the total amount raised to about $53 million. It also brings an A-list, late-stage investor into the fold in IVP.
According to ZEFR co-founders Zach James and Rich Raddon, there were a number of reasons that the company decided to take investment from IVP as opposed to other investors. For one thing, they wanted a firm that was strong in software.
They were also looking to find an investor that was committed to investing in Los Angeles. Guess what? IVP led the Series B investment in ephemeral messaging platform Snapchat.
“Rich and I are trying to build a company in L.A. and want people that believe in L.A. and have made significant investments here,” James told me in a phone interview.
They also liked the fact that IVP was lead for a couple of business analytics and social software companies like Buddy Media, since brands and advertisers are increasingly becoming key clients. In addition to its BrandID product, it’s also been working on new products called AdID and ChannelID to help advertisers engage with customers and fans.
In addition to IVP, existing ZEFR investors U.S. Venture Partners, Shasta Ventures, First Round Capital, and Richmond Park Partners participated in the round. And IVP general partner Dennis Phelps has joined the company’s board of directors.
So how’s all that funding going to be spent? As you might expect, ZEFR is looking to invest even more heavily in its engineering team to improve its existing products and come up with new ones. It’s also going to be expanding its sales and marketing team, and hopes to expand more outside the U.S. in the next year.
With a pretty strong platform already, this funding should give ZEFR the boost it needs to go after an ever-larger opportunity of connecting content owners and brands with their fans. To see how they’re already doing that, check out the video below.
* Fun fact: Domo founder Josh James is Zach’s brother. There’s a resemblance.