With Digital Media On The Rise, Disney Investment Arm Steamboat Ventures Raises $85 Million Fund

Well here’s a small bit of news before we enter the long holiday weekend: Disney’s investment arm, Steamboat Ventures, has raised a new $85 million fund, according to an SEC filing. The new money will allow Steamboat — and by extension, Disney — to continue making investments in digital media, as the market continues to heat up.

Like other investment portfolios linked to major media conglomerates, Steamboat tends to makes strategic investments in startups that focus on digital video, gaming, and advertising — basically all things that could facilitate Disney’s embrace of digital media. Example companies in its portfolio include content-delivery network Edgecast Networks, encoding technology provider Elemental Technologies, online ad startup FreeWheel, and portable camera maker GoPro, all of which seem to be doing fairly well.

The firm has had its share of successes, such as Playdom, which was bought by Disney for more than $750 million in 2010, as well as Pure Digital (acquired by Cisco) and GreyStripe (bought by ValueClick). But not all exits have been totally successful — Move Networks was sold to Dish in what appeared to be a fire sale.

Nevertheless, now seems to be a good time to be investing in digital media, particularly online video and technologies that help support it. With YouTube emerging as a viable platform for video distribution and monetization, the promise of alternative online video content sources looks like it’s finally being realized.

Meanwhile, a ton of traditional media companies — like Disney — are moving their video and gaming portfolios to new platforms to take advantage of new online, social, and mobile distribution outlets. With the new fund in place, Steamboat will be there to continue to invest in the technology companies that will make those new business models work.

We were not able to reach representatives from Steamboat at press time, but will update if we hear back!