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Video Site with Unauthorized Anime Gets US$4M Capital

posted on by Justin Sevakis
Crunchyroll obtains capital, plans to insert ads, gets its first authorized stream

Crunchyroll, a video-streaming website known for offering anime titles without authorization, secured a capital investment of US$4.05 million.

Venture capital firm Venrock reportedly invested the capital in San-Francisco-based Crunchyroll, Inc., with Venrock General Partner David Siminoff joining Crunchyroll's board of directors. Several websites that report on federal regulatory filings covered the investment in brief.

In an interview with the blog Kokoro Media, the site's unnamed founders state that their web traffic started attracting interest from venture capital in mid-2007. The company says that the site has over 4 million unique visitors and serves 50 million streams per month. The company unveiled its first legally authorized anime stream, a short from the Flash animated series that later became Eagle Talon The Movie - The Chancellor Only Lives Twice, late last month.

Crunchyroll is one of several websites that posts anime and other Asian content through a streaming interface, similar to YouTube, without authorization from or payment to most owners of its content. The site identifies the versions of many anime titles it hosts as fansubs from prominent subtitling groups. Nonetheless, the website claims that it abides by copyright law by removing several series upon request from the copyright holders. Recently, several fansubbers have expressed displeasure with the service, with some fansub videos specifically insulting the site.

The company offers higher-quality video to users who "donate" money for onscreen badges. The company stated that it intends to begin inserting video ads into full-length episodes, and intends to work directly with "a select number of Japanese firms" to acquire content legally.

Venrock is a venture capital firm formed in 1969 with offices in Menlo Park, California; New York City; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Israel. Funded by the Rockefeller family fortune, the company has invested more than US$1.8 billion in more than 400 companies, resulting in 100 IPOs over the company's history. Focused on start-up tech-oriented companies, Venrock's past investments have included such companies as Intel, Apple, DoubleClick, and 3Com Corporation. Siminoff currently serves on the board of directors of 4INFO, Green Dimes, and Spark Networks.

Crunchyroll's domain name is registered through a third-party service without a publicly available contact name. Crunchyroll has yet to respond to ANN's requests for comment since yesterday.

This article has a follow-up: Funimation, Bandai Entertainment Respond on Crunchyroll (Updated) (2008-03-12 15:54)
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