Fora.tv, which wants to become the C-SPAN of the Web, closed a $2 million seed round from Adobe Ventures and Will Hearst. The site has about 1,500 hours of public speeches from people like Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker and neurologist and New Yorker contributor Oliver Sacks. It gets its videos through partnerships with organizations like the Aspen Institute, the Commonwealth Club, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Long Now Foundation, and, yes, C-SPAN. In fact, founder and CEO Brian Gruber once worked at C-Span as its chief marketer. He prefers calling Fora.tv the “thinking man’s YouTube,” but admits the comparison to C-Span is apt in that Fora.TV is “about deep unfiltered, unmediated content.” But Fora.tv covers more than just politics. It also contains speeches from the leading lights of science, business, technology, and culture. If you are into that sort of thing.
Even if you are, sitting through an hour-long speech on the Web is hard for anyone. That is why Fora.tv breaks up each video into 3-minute chapters and indexes them so that busy brainiacs can find just the clip they are looking for and move on. Each video is transcribed overseas for easy indexing and searching. As Gruber puts it: “We want to crack the code of how do you take intelligent video content and give it to the modern viewer who has some form of ADD.” His business model is selling sponsorships for specific channels, which start at $100,000 for the entire year. Pfizer is one current sponsor. Gruber is selling access to a hard-to-reach audience, not to a lot of viewers (he says the site attracts only 250,000 unique visitors a month).
Even so, $2 million is peanuts when it comes to building a Web video destination, even if it is a niche site. Gruber plans to raise another $5 million in an A round within 90 days.