Borrowing From Snapchat's Playbook, Curated Film Platform MUBI Raises $15M

MUBI, the global curated film streaming service, has closed a new $15 million funding round, bringing the total amount it’s raised so far to $20 million. Meanwhile, MUBI launched a few days ago on PlayStation 4, after being on PlayStation 3. It’s had over 5.5 million downloads to date, and makes MUBI now available in 43 territories. It’s also been confirmed as launch partners for Amazon Fire TV (in the UK and Germany). The previous $20 million it raised also came largely from individuals, with Floreat Group and MMC Ventures being the only institutional investors. However, this latest funding is not a venture round. Instead, a grand total of 49 individual investors participated, with institutions taking only 5% of the round. That makes this one of the largest rounds of equity financings for a startup done with just individuals, certainly in Europe, where MUBI is based. In fact, this was similar to Snapchat’s recent fundraising, as it works on a “rolling” basis. Founder Efe Cakarel told me: "We went after individual investors at different valuations over a year, like Spiegel. It’s a rolling investment and a rolling close. Expect more of this type of financing, which is very entrepreneur friendly. You focus on running the business, and not on fundraising. The terms are the same for everyone - no lead, no side letters, no preferences, no negotiation, no exceptions.” The fundraising process sounds unorthodox, if effective. MUBI sent out a presentation to the individual investor prospect. If they were interested, Mubi gave them access to their due diligence documents folder in Dropbox. Cakarel would then meet the investor for a “quick espresso” to answer any questions and give them wire instructions for the investment cash. That's it. “Whoever wires the money is in, and when you reach your target, you “close” the round,” he said. It certainly sounds less tortuous than the average fund raising! The individuals participating in this round include: Jon Winkelried: Former Co-President of Goldman Sachs Eric Fellner: Producer, Co-Chairman of Working Title Films Martín Varsavsky: CEO and Founder of Fon Pascal Cagni: Former CEO of Apple EMEA; Board Member, Vivendi Osama Al Ayoub: CEO, Kuwait Investment Office Simon Patterson: Silver Lake Partners Jörg Mohaupt: Access Industries; Board Member, Warner Music Group Peter Dubens: Founder, Oakley Capital Bertrand Demole: Partner, Pictet MMC Ventures White Star Capital Floreat Group With MUBI each country has a localised film library (with original language and local subtitles). Their service is very simple by design: there is no search, recommendations and large catalogs which can sometimes confuse users. MUBI is different to Netflix and all the other Video on Demand streaming services out there, in that it uses film experts to handpick its daily output library. They handpick just one great film every day for $4.99 / €4.99 / £2.99 per month. This is available to watch for 30 days. So, at any time there is only 30 films to choose from. The line up is mostly classic, art house, foreign and independent films but they are about to close their first Studio deal which will make the offering appeal to a much larger audience. MUBI is available on the web, iOS, Android, PlayStation, Samsung Smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and other internet-connected devices. It’s also the only subscription video on demand platform with offline viewing capability on mobile (similar to Spotify) - Netflix doesn't have this. Cakarel thinks that the market will split between one or two giants - Netflix and Amazon - because of their economies of scale, and MUBI, because of its curation. MUBI’s idea is that it can simply complement big on-demand giants ins tea dog competing with them, focusing on quality and simplicity as the engine to boost conversion rates and with no marketing dollars. MUBI has offices in London, San Francisco, Munich, Mexico City and Istanbul.
Mike Butcher

Mike Butcher is a Writer at Gigabuzz, focused on covering early-stage startups, especially those with a technology focus and great perks.

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