Former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar has an ambitious plan for transforming the way we think about online video. His new startup Vessel is taking some of the same basic concepts that were successful in getting people to pay to watch streaming versions of their favorite TV shows on Hulu and applying it to YouTube videos.
But hey, reinventing the digital video space isn’t cheap! There are all sorts of infrastructure costs, as well as all the serious sales and marketing that goes with trying to get people to pay for early access to videos they could otherwise get for free. And let’s not forget the costs that come with convincing creators to distribute videos on Vessel.
To help fund the expansion of its engineering team while also enabling it to acquire new content, Vessel has raised new funding from Institutional Venture Partners. The round was led by IVP general partner Todd Chaffee, who has made a number of media- and video-related investments, including Adobe, Akamai, Netflix, Twitter and Yahoo.
While Vessel isn’t formally announcing the amount raised, sources close to the company say the round closed out at $57.5 million. That comes on top of $77 million our sources confirmed the company raised last summer from investors that include Benchmark, Greylock and Bezos Expeditions.
That’s a lot of money for a startup that’s pretty new to the scene, but the team is made up of a bunch of ex-Hulu execs who have done this before. That inspires a lot of confidence for investors, to be sure.
The company isn’t reporting any subscriber or viewership numbers — it’s too early for that! — but Vessel has had a fair amount of success signing up creators. It now has more than 175 creators on board, who have a combined audience of 200 million viewers on YouTube. If it can convert even a small number of those YouTube viewers over to its platform, it could make a tidy business of charging them $2.99 a month for early access to their favorite shows.