vpod.tv Raises $5.1 Million: First Look

I mentioned vpod.tv, a startup headquartered in Paris and Madrid, in my Innovate 2006 roundup. Today they are announcing a $5.1 million Series A round, led by Frédéric Humbert of Innovacom.

vpod is a “best of class” service, in the rapidly evolving and increasingly crowded video sharing space. vpod is doing things that no one else is with transcoding, editing/display and monetization.

Frankly, the online video space is getting so crazy that I put off a demo of the product from founders Rodrigo Sepulveda Schulz and Ivan Communod until the end of the conference. The real winner seems to be Adobe – its new Flash development platform is so robust that everyone seems to be developing their own video product, and most are basically variations on the same thing.

vpod may be different. It’s based in Europe, which will give it an advantage as the U.S. players beat eachother up – they can grow European market share in the meantime. Also, like Revver, vpod is focusing on monetizing videos.

vpod will allow advertisers to easily create advertisements, and play them on their own websites and/or insert them into users’ videos. Ads will be inserted at the beginning, middle or end of videos and will range from 10-60 seconds long. Users can opt out of ads by paying a fee. By opting in, they’ll receive a revenue split from vpod – something in the 50% range. This is further than what competitor Revver has announced to date.

But vpod also shines in other areas. They take video from almost any source and, more importantly, transcode for almost any device. Want Mpeg-4 for the PSP? vpod will let you download that format. Mpeg for the iPod? You can have that too. Just tell vpod your device and it will give you the correct format.

And finally, the tools for creating your own “channel” on vPod are stunning. The only Flash is around the player. Everything else is javascript and dhtml. They allow, for example, resizing of boxes by dragging the mouse, something I’ve only seen in Flash previously.

vpod is in private beta. Sign up on the home page. They are allowing people in slowly, ramping up for a fall launch.

In the meantime, if you have some time to kill, check out my after-three-cocktails video interview with Rodrigo here.

Screen shots (more are here):