Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Boxee Wants a Big Round or a Buyer

BoxeeTV-perspectiveBoxee wants some help.

The Web TV startup would like to raise a big investment round, or find a buyer. It has been looking for cash or an exit since February, when it hired media banker Allen & Co., according to people familiar with the company.

Boxee has raised around $30 million since 2008. Its most recent funding round was more than two years ago, when it picked up $16.5 million.

When the company first hired Allen, it was looking for another $30 million, hopefully from a strategic investor. Alternately, the company has been pitching itself as a software/hardware solution to potential buyers like cable and satellite TV providers.

You can make a case for a deal like that in broad terms: Lots of pay-TV companies are looking at new ways of getting their programming on TV sets, and some have started to do it. Comcast subscribers, for instance, can now get their TV via an app on Microsoft’s Xbox 360; earlier this year, Time Warner Cable and Roku announced a distribution deal.

And Boxee’s most recent product, a “cloud DVR” box, works along those same lines. When the company rolled it out last fall, it positioned the device as a way to store and play broadcast TV, which users could get for free with an antenna. But sales have been tepid, and the company has concluded that its only real chance for success would be via partnerships with pay TV providers, who could offer users a full compliment of programming.

Any kind of link-up with a traditional TV provider would make for an awkward press release from Boxee, since the startup, based in New York and Israel, has spent years positioning itself as a tool for cord-cutters and cord-nevers. But if you can’t beat ’em …

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google