Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Another Bet on Video: How-To Start-Up 5min Raises $7.5 Million

072309atdfiveminWeb video companies that wanted to take on Google’s (GOOG) YouTube are having a very hard time. But Web video isn’t going away, either, and there has to be some way to make it work for users, publishers and investors. Right?

Hence, another round of funding for 5min, a video start-up that just raised a $7.5 million B round. New investor Globespan Capital Partners led the round, and Spark Capital, the VC shop that has made several video bets (along with a big one in Twitter) made a second investment.

5min has now raised $12.5 million since 2007. Co-founder Ran Harnevo won’t discuss valuation, though I’m told it’s up from its A round, which is an accomplishment in and of itself.

“People do understand that video is the next thing. They just don’t see reasonable business models,” Harnevo says. “That’s the next thing that you have to do. You have to go into VCs and say, “I know how to do this.”

The company, which is based in New York City but has its roots in Israel, takes a different tack toward video than the would-be YouTubes: Rather than serving as a portal for user-generated clips or movies and TV shows, it cobbles together a library of how-to videos and distributes them to sites that don’t have any videos of their own. It now claims to reach 14 million video views across 200 sites.

There’s plenty of competition for how-to sites and videos, too, of course. But Harnevo claims that he’s been able to sell all of his inventory so far, and predicts he’ll be profitable in the next 18 months.

He was similarly optimistic six months ago, when he let me try my hand at conducting an interview with a Flip Mino. I never ended up publishing the clip, but now seems like a good time to do so–as long as you’re willing to put up with crummy sound, shaky camerawork and a stretched image. As I said, I was trying this stuff out.

Just about every thing we discussed in this interview still holds up, except that 5min now boasts 100,000 videos, up from 50,000 in December.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald