Culture Machine Raises Money, Boards Former YouTube Product Head as Adviser

/ Sep 2, 2014

Culture Machine

Culture Machine, a digital video startup focused on South Asian programming and content creators, has raised a Series A round led by Zodius Capital. While the amount has not been disclosed by either company, multiple sources indicate that the total is in the neighborhood of $3.5 million.

With the new capital, Culture Machine plans to continue on its path to becoming the global digital network “of choice” for creators and brands with a South Asian sensibility, according to Culture Machine CEO Sameer Pitalwalla. This includes making investments in engineering as well as expanding its business to markets that are adjacent to India.

Started by Pitalwalla (a former Disney executive) and fellow co-founder Venkat Prasad (a former YouTube executive) 15 months ago, Culture Machine manages a YouTube-certified multi-channel network that encompasses a creator network as well as a brand solutions business.

For creators and brands, in addition to channel optimization and audience development, Culture Machine offers two production facilities in Mumbai and Chennai as part of a promise to co-create original content that is likely to succeed on digital platforms. Successful YouTube videos from the factory, to date, include “Every Delhi Girl in the World” and “She Called Me Bhaiyya.”

Beyond YouTube, though, Culture Machine is actively building out its presence on mobile. “We plan to grow [on mobile] immensely because, frankly, we see a lot of device fragmentation in the market, and India is a mobile-first market,” says Pitalwalla. In addition to building mobile video apps — initially for Android — he says Culture Machine is syndicating content to multiple mobile video services, including Vuclip, which is huge in the region.

To help with this, as well as other areas of growth, Culture Machine has named a few notable people to its board of advisors. Shishir Mehrotra, the former head of product at YouTube, is on board, as is Vuclip CEO Nickhil Jakatdar and Dean Gilbert, former global head of content operations at YouTube and an early-stage investor in Culture Machine.

Between the three, Culture Machine will retain counsel on things ranging from product and business, to mobile video and off-YouTube strategy, and the online video market and the state of the business in general, says Pitalwalla. The CEO declined to comment when asked if the new advisers — except for Gilbert — had also made investments in the company.

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