Medal.tv raises $9 million for short-form gaming videos

Horizons Ventures led the round with participation from existing investors Makers Fund, Backed.VC, and Social Starts. In just 14 months since launch, …

Medal.tv said it has raised $9 million in funding for short-form videos that have become a big means of self-expression in the social media age.

Horizons Ventures led the round with participation from existing investors Makers Fund, Backed.VC, and Social Starts. In just 14 months since launch, the platform said it has grown into one of the largest and fastest-growing platforms in gaming.

The platform is growing between 10% to 20% per week. Some creators are actively gaining thousands of followers on the platform. Gamers are uploading millions of clips every month, and they’re viewing even more of them, according to the Long Beach, California-based Medal.

“At Medal, we believe the next big social platform will emerge in gaming, perhaps built on top of short-form content, partially as a result of gaming publishers trying to build their own isolated gaming stores and systems,” said Pim de Witte, the CEO of the company, in a statement. “That drives social fragmentation in the market and brings out the need for platforms such as Medal and Discord, which unite gamers across games and platforms in a meaningful way.”

Above: Medal.tv competes with YouTube, Twitch, and others.

Image Credit: Medal.tv

Medal.tv is not disclosing exact user numbers at the moment, but when I was writing this, it had nearly 20,000 gamers online, a close to 10-times increase from the company’s seed round in February.

“We’re seeing sharing of short-form video emerge as a means of self-expression and entertainment for the current generation. We believe Medal’s platform will be a foundation for interactive social experiences beyond what you can find in a game,” said Jonathan Tam of Horizons Ventures.

Tam will join Medal’s board.

Medal works with game developers to grow their titles through their own audiences, as short-form content drives awareness and game discovery across social platforms. For example, the company recently launched “Get this on Steam” in partnership with Steam to drive game sales.

“Friends are the main driver of game discovery, and game developers benefit from shareable games as a result. Medal.tv is trying to enable that without the complexity of streaming” said Matteo Vallone, who previously headed up games for Google Play Europe and is an investor in Medal, in a statement.

Medal.tv plans to use its money to hire and develop business-facing operations. It has also opened up a partnership program for upcoming creators to continue to expand its rapidly growing user base.

“Pim and his team are a talented, perceptive, and gritty group and it’s been a joy working with them,” said Makers Fund investor Ryann Lai in a statement. “Medal has the exciting potential to enable a seamless social exchange of virtual experiences.“

Rivals include YouTube, Twitch, Plays.tv, Gifyourgame, and Athenascope. Medal looks at your mobile device as the place where you’ll spend most of your time sharing and viewing clips, whereas you record them anywhere (currently PC only). Medal also focuses on pairing the creation with viewership, through features such as adding buttons to your clips.

Medal has 25 employees.

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Making a Play for Collegiate Esports: BoomTV Acquires the American Video Game League

Other previous investors include Crosscut Ventures, Betaworks, Boost VC, Tandem Capital, First Round Capital, Dylan Flinn, Vikrant Bhargava, and …

Mentioned in this article

Games:
  • BITKRAFT Seed Fund portfolio company BoomTV has acquired collegiate esports organizer American Video Game League for an undisclosed amount.
  • The NCAA announced earlier this year that it will not govern collegiate esports opening the door for third-party organizers to build an infrastructure for collegiate esports.
  • Recently, BoomTV integrated a collegiate Fortnite esports competition into its Code Red tournament in a collaboration with American Video Game League.

Esports entertainment platform BoomTV has acquired the American Video Game League (AVGL) in a move to expand collegiate esports. The AVGL is one of the largest producers of collegiate esports events, content, and community initiatives that have included over 1,200 colleges. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

According to BoomTV, more than 40K influencers and brands use its platform to engage their communities and run esports events. The platform is multifunctional, offering tools such as automated score-tracking, streaming, and event hub generation.

In May, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Board of Governors voted not to govern collegiate esports, opening the door to third-party organizers to build the scene’s infrastructure. One of those organizers is the AVGL, a company growing college esports through online tournaments, large-scale live events, content, and campus program support. The AVGL has worked with game publishers, brands, gaming events, and content platforms such as DreamHack, Twitch, Turtle Beach, and HyperX.

“Our focus has always been to provide the best competitive experiences for collegiate esports players and fans, and the BoomTV platform will achieve this at scale,” said AVGL CEO Victor Suski in a release. “This strategic acquisition allows us to offer colleges tools and events needed for expansion. This is a huge step forward for the AVGL and collegiate esports.”

In a recent collaboration with the AVGL, BoomTV integrated collegiate competition into its largest tournament (Code Red), providing Fortnite collegiate players with the opportunity to compete head-to-head against several big names in streaming for a $10K USD prize pool.

BoomTV is a BITKRAFT Seed Fund portfolio company since 2016. Other previous investors include Crosscut Ventures, Betaworks, Boost VC, Tandem Capital, First Round Capital, Dylan Flinn, Vikrant Bhargava, and Cheng YuChiang. The company raised $3.5M from those investors in 2016.

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Squad, the ‘anti-bro startup,’ is creating a safe space for teenage girls online

… Squad’s compelling founding story and organic growth helped them close a $5 million seed round led by First Round Capital general partner Hayley …

When we go online to communicate, hang out or play, we’re typically logging on to platforms conceived of and built by men.

Mark Zuckerberg famously created Facebook in his Harvard dorm room. Evan Spiegel and his frat brother Bobby Murphy devised a plan for the ephemeral messaging app Snapchat while the pair were still students at Stanford. Working out of a co-working space, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger built Instagram and yes, they also went to Stanford.

Seldom have social tools created by women climbed the latter to mainstream success. Instead, women and girls have battled the lion’s share of digital harassment on popular social platforms — most of which failed early-on to incorporate security features tailored to minority user’s needs — and struggled to find a protected corner of the internet.

Squad, an app that allows you to video chat and share your phone screen with a friend in real-time, has tapped into a demographic clamoring for a safe space to gather online. Without any marketing, the startup has collected 450,000 registered users in eight months, 70% of which are teenage girls. So far this year, users have clocked in 1 million hours inside Squad calls.

“Completely accidentally we’ve developed this global audience of users and it’s girls all over the world,” Squad co-founder and chief executive officer Esther Crawford tells TechCrunch. “In India, it’s girls. In Saudia Arabia, it’s girls. In the U.S., it’s girls. Even without us localizing it, girls all over the world are finding it.”

Squad screens

Squad, the social screen sharing and group video chat app, has pulled together a $5 million investment led by First Round Capital.

Learn from the best but get rid of the shit

A remote team of six people led by Crawford, who’s a graduate of Oregon State University, Squad’s compelling founding story and organic growth helped them close a $5 million seed round led by First Round Capital general partner Hayley Barna, the only female partner at the historically all-male early-stage investment fund known for being the first institutional check in Uber.

Betaworks, Alpha Bridge Ventures, Day One Ventures, Jane VC, Mighty Networks CEO Gina Bianchini, early Snapchat employee Sebastian Gil and Y Combinator, the startup accelerator program Squad completed in the winter of 2018, have also participated in the funding round.

“We want to be a place where girls can come and hang out,” -Squad co-founder and CEO Esther Crawford.

Crawford describes Squad, which she’s built alongside her co-founder and chief technology officer Ethan Sutin, as the “anti-bro startup.” Not only because it’s led by a woman and boasts a cap table that’s 30% women and 30% people of color, but because she’s completely rewriting the consumer social startup playbook.

“We are trying to learn from the best in what they did but get rid of the shit,” Crawford said, referring to Snap, WhatsApp, Twitch and others. Twitch, a live-streaming platform for gamers, has become a social gathering place for Gen Z, she explains, but like many other communities on the internet, it’s failed its female users.

“Girls have been completely pushed off of Twitch,” she said. “The Twitch community didn’t want them there and they weren’t friendly to them. For boys, there are places you can go to consume content with other people, like Fortnite, but for girls there hasn’t been a place that’s really broken out. We want to be a place where girls can come and hang out.”

What Crawford and the small team at Squad have realized is that you don’t have to sacrifice growth for user safety and comfort. From the beginning, Squad has made sure users could easily block and report inappropriate behaviors and users, a feature that was an afterthought on many other social tools. They also made users unsearchable unless another user knows their exact username. By prioritizing the security of its primarily female audience, Squad is betting girls will continue coming back to the app and telling their friends about it.

“It’s possible to make girls feel safe and still have growth as a consumer product,” she said. “If people don’t feel safe on your app, they won’t stick around long-term.”

A new playbook

Squad quietly launched in January after pivoting away from building an information-sharing tool called Molly, which was backed with $1.5 million from BBG, Betaworks, CrunchFund and Halogen Ventures. Crawford’s now 14-year-old daughter unintentionally inspired the transition, when she proposed her mom create an app where she could peer into her best friend’s phones from afar.

IMG 2588

This reporter and Squad CEO Esther Crawford discuss the startup’s growth via Squad video chat.

Using Squad, people can browse memes, pore through DMs, plan a trip on Airbnb, peruse Tinder or a photo album with a friend via its video chat and screen share features. As Crawford describes it, it’s all the stuff you don’t want to post to Snap or Instagram but want to show your best friends. An app that may seem frivolous or non-essential seems to have quickly become a space online where girls can are opting to spend hours intimately engaged with their friends — without fear of stumbling into a troll.

“People can use this digital tech to hang out together instead of it being so performative,” Crawford said.

The downside of Squad’s screen sharing capabilities is a user can view another user’s Facebook friend’s profile, even if, say, they themselves were blocked from viewing that content. Most apps are available for viewing through screen share aside from premium video streaming apps like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, so its entirely possible someone could use Squad solely for the purpose of viewing social content they are otherwise barred from seeing. In response to this possibility, Crawford says they are considering alerting users when their Squad chat’s been screen-shotted. To avoid additional privacy issues, Squad users can’t record or save anything from their calls or replay what happened on Squad.

Like many early-stage startups, the company isn’t making any money yet because the app is free and without ads. As soon as next year, however, Squad plans to monetize the product with in-app purchasing, scraping another rule from the consumer social playbook that has long encouraged companies to expand their user base first before trying to profit off users at all. (See: The Snapchat Monetization Problem).

Techno-optimism

Crawford, a product marketing veteran, grew up in a cult in Oregon where girls were barred from wearing makeup and from watching television or listening to music. But because the internet was so early, the dangers of it were yet to be discovered and miraculously, she was allowed to go online. Quickly, she made connections with people all over the world thanks to everyone’s favorite messaging tool at the time, AOL Instant Messenger.

The experience planted in her a deep love for the internet and a desire to share her life online. After developing a community through AIM, Crawford became one of the very first original content creators on YouTube and garnered millions of views on her videos. Without trying, she became an influencer, long before the term entered the zeitgeist.

Squad Screensharing1

She used her newfound digital prowess to launch one of the first social marketing agencies, where her clients included Weight Watchers and K-Mart, legacy brands that had no idea how to tap into her native digital communities. Ultimately, Crawford landed in the tech startup world, hopping from Series A startup to Series A startup, offering up her product marketing skills before her daughter’s idea prompted her to go into business on her own again.

“I’m a techno-optimist and yet, so many of these tech companies we thought were going to connect people turned out to have accidentally made people more lonely,” she said. “With a different lense and approach, I thought there could be an app that built bridges.”

Now with a new bout of funding, Squad can implement strategic marketing campaigns, continue adding integrations with complementary platforms (the startup has just announced a new integration with YouTube) and hire product designers. The next few years will be critical to Squad’s success as it looks to young people to give them a permanent spot on their home screen.

For Crawford, what’s most important, aside from growing group of teenagers using Squad, is to make sure only good people see a big payday thanks to her great idea: “I am ready to do everything I can to make Squad successful and make sure our success has a positive downstream effect so that we have great people on our team that get rich off our success.”

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Diagonal View to Bring Over 1500 Hours of Content and 15 million Fans from Its Popular YouTube …

The platform supports a variety of monetization models, such as cryptocurrency and its own MoviBits virtual currency, and offers viewers a gamified …

Diagonal View, a digital video network, delivering tens of millions of subscribers and billions of views across YouTube and other digital platforms generated from professionally produced content that BitMovio users will now enjoy through the next-gen gamified streaming video platform

BitMovio announced its partnership with digital video network Diagonal View to acquire video programming from 16 of its popular YouTube channels that reach over 15 million subscribers. With this partnership, BitMovio will acquire over 1,500 hours of new content for its blockchain-enabled video entertainment marketplace, available in open beta to users around the world via web browsers, iOS and Android devices. Diagonal View develops original content across dozens of growing channels, many of which will now be available to BitMovio audiences, including Football Daily, Euro Football Daily, FDFC, AllTime 10’s, Alltime Movies, Draw My Life, AllTime Conspiracies, 101 Facts, Debunked, 24 Swish and more.

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Simon Zhu, Co-founder and CEO of BitMovio, said: “What makes BitMovio unique from other streaming video platforms like YouTube is that we’re dedicated to enabling content creators to distribute their videos without bureaucracy or barriers. Creators can develop personalized channels on BitMovio with flexible monetization and business rules. This enables them to instantly engage with their global audience and grow their fan bases, with superior economics, engagement and transparency that are enabled by blockchain technology and enhanced by ‘gamification’ elements such as our MoviBits virtual currency, features which are the driving force behind global entertainment success stories such as Fortnite and many others. Diagonal View is the ideal partner for bringing premium content to our community across a variety of popular genres that our community will enjoy, like gaming and eSports, sports, paranormal, life-style, sci-fi, horror, and more.”

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Matt Heiman, MD of Diagonal View said: “BitMovio shares our vision of enabling creators to develop bespoke pieces of content and then build an engaged fan base anywhere online. They bring an innovative approach to managing, distributing and monetizing video content that allows us to drive new revenue streams while building new fan bases on the BitMovio platform.”

A cross between Twitch, Netflix and Patreon, BitMovio is a new form of video entertainment marketplace enabled by blockchain technologies and in-platform virtual goods. The platform supports a variety of monetization models, such as cryptocurrency and its own MoviBits virtual currency, and offers viewers a gamified user experience, including real-time chat, on-screen bullet chat, tipping, gifting, micro-transactions, per-channel subscriptions and reward-based advertising that create an engaging and connected global community. BitMovio’s streaming video platform features a wide array of genres, including gaming, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, paranormal/UFOs, conspiracy and more. Over the past several months, the company has signed over 4,500 hours of premium video content from premium film and television networks and studios, global production companies, YouTube networks, independent film producers and individual influencers.

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Could an Elon Musk and xQc Overwatch stream actually happen? Twitch star makes an offer

Top Twitch streamer Felix ‘xQc’ Lengyel appears to be hoping to get an Overwatch session with Elon Musk – as well as some inside information about …

The former Dallas Fuel star didn’t opt to send a video message or even make an on-stream plea, but instead tagged Musk in a tweet with his offer during his July 28 broadcast – where he was, again, playing the popular Kerbal Space Program.

“Hey @elonmusk, my community and I would love to learn about rockets and livestream a tour at @SpaceX,” he tweeted. “It would be amazing, maybe some Overwatch duos after?”

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