EXCLUSIVE: Tape It Off The Internet (Tioti.com), the aggregator of social media around TV, will announce on Monday that it has secured a “a seven-figure” Series A funding round from Europe’s largest early-stage technology venture capital fund, Pond Venture Partners. Tioti had previously secured angel investors, including partners from Alegro Capital. The move comes three weeks after the site opened its doors to new users and after almost a year in closed, invite-only beta.
Tioti, based in Seattle and London, was founded in 2005 by Paul Cleghorn, a well-known figure in London technology circles, and Marc Colando in the US.
Although the precise funding figure has not been released, it is believed to be in the low million dollar range. Tioti will use the cash to invest in the site and extend the service to other platforms, including IPTV and TV download services from household-name broadcasters.
Dr Mike Gera, general partner at Pond Ventures said Tioti will have a “big impact in the rapidly evolving world of TV on the Internet… which nicely complements the recent launches of IPTV and TV download services from various household names.” In other words, far from being a wild-west download site like Pirate Bay, Tioti is likely to work hand in glove with broadcasters and channel owners to use social media to increase viewing numbers online and build advertising revenues.
How does it do this? Tioti essentially pulls together information about TV shows from all over the web, connects that with download sources and filters the results through a social network while making recommendations. You can’t download TV shows direct from Tioti – it just points to the relevant sources (so far at least).
But following the Police raid and arrests made on operators of the UK’s TV-Links volunteer web site last week, I asked Cleghorn what Tioti’s position would be on linking to content sources.
This is what he emailed to me:
“At TIOTI we have made the decision not to link to websites that don’t have a DMCA or similar request and removal process. We also have our own DMCA request and removal policy that we take very seriously. Our website automatically indexes content on third party sites in the same way that a traditional search engine does. Like a search engine, we can’t independently verify every file that we index, but we do act quickly to take down links identified by copyright owners as linking to files that infringe their rights. TIOTI, being US based, works within the framework of US law and the DMCA, which we believe promotes the free exchange of information on the Internet while protecting the rights of content owners.”
Tioti says it is now indexing over 75,000 television shows and more than 500,000 individual episodes for download. It claims to have doubled registered users, increased overall visitors by 300%, and served over half a million pages since the beginning of October. Based on earlier released figures that would mean 36,000 registered users.
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens next in this sector, especially in the UK where there has been a sudden rash of online video and TV-related startups in the last year or so.
For more on Tioti see my extensive interview with Paul Cleghorn last year.