Culture Machine Raises $18M, Boards Another YouTube Exec as Adviser

/ Feb 9, 2015

Culture Machine

Culture Machine, a digital video startup that focuses on international programming and content creators, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led by Tiger Global, Zodius Capital, and Times Internet Limited.

Started by former Disney and YouTube executives Sameer Pitalwalla and Venkat Prasad, Culture Machine creates, distributes, and monetizes videos across a variety of platforms. Initially, it focused on YouTube, but — like other networks on the site — has since expanded its reach to additional platforms. (For instance, the company syndicates its content to mobile video service Vuclip, which is huge in South Asia.)

When Culture Machine raised $3.5 million in a Series A from Zodius and Times Internet, Pitalwalla told VideoInk that mobile, particularly, was a huge area of focus going forward. “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,” he said. Currently, mobile accounts for roughly 60% of its traffic, the company said.

With the new funding, Culture Machine plans to make more investments in tech, as it continues to improve the way it creates and distributes content, especially as the digital video landscape gets even more fragmented.

“In an multi-screen, multi-platform world where content is personalized and social is the new distribution, creating targeted content for global communities at scale is a challenge,” said Pitalwalla and Prasad in a joint statement. “These digital video platforms are the next generation of distribution, and we are building a next-generation media company that uses our proprietary technology platforms, to know what content to create and create that content at scale.”

Culture Machine also manages a YouTube-certified multi-channel network that encompasses a creator network as well as a brand solutions business. The company has several production facilities in India as part of a promise to its talent and ad clients to co-create original content that has a chance to succeed online. Clients include Johnson & Johnson, P&G, and Unilever.

Outside of its Series A and B investors, Culture Machine has a few interesting people working behind the scenes who are worth pointing out. Its board of advisers include Shishir Mehrotra, former head of product at YouTube, and Dean Gilbert, former global head of content operations at YouTube and investor in Culture Machine as well as numerous other video startups.

Joining them on the board is another former major YouTube executive: Chris LaRosa, who was in charge of YouTube’s relationships with music labels and publishers until he departed last summer. (With its base in India, music is a huge part of Culture Machine’s content output.)

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