Motionbox is an online video sharing service based in New York City. The brainchild of Chris O’ Brien and Andrew Wason, MotionBox was dubbed a Youtube clone. It seems to have some interesting features though, and may be a reasonably priced acquisition for a larger player with distribution looking for an online video angle.
Aimed at amateur video enthusiasts and families, Motionbox like Youtube, transcodes files to flash to reduce the file size. But it stores the original files and allows users to download them or purchase DVDs with those files. However, the feature that makes Motionbox stand out from the rest of the crowd is its video editing. The video is broken down visually into frames, which makes it easier to link other video files or remove portions from the videos.
Like Youtube, it also allows users to tag parts of videos. But, they go a step further and allow users to “deep tag” parts of video files. The deep tagging feature enables viewers to skip to the tagged portion of the file by clicking on the tag. The company has also made sure that the users have access to all kinds of file formats including videos from digital cameras, raw DV, cell phones and HD footage, although they entered the HD arena a little late in 2008. The users can also upload the videos via email.
While Crackle—after its acquisition by Sony— is aiming at professional producers, Motionbox is sticking to amateurs. The users can either choose to remain a free account holder or can opt for their premium service. The free user account allows 300mb of video content which, quite naturally, will be inadequate for most users. But the unlimited storage feature is quite reasonably priced at $29.99 for a year.
Motionbox also allows you to create a Motionbook: a small flipbook of their video. A 15-second video chosen by the user is transformed into a 75-page, 3.5X2 inch flipbook. Priced at $7.99 (shipping charges extra), Motionbox is trying to make souvenirs out of videos. How popular will that be? We’ll have to wait and watch. This feature, in fact, makes me think that an interesting acquirer for the company could be Shutterfly (Nasdaq: SFLY), with a strong focus on photo books and personal merchandise.
MotionBox is funded adequately at $11.2 million. The company raised $4.2 million in Series A funding from Canaan Ventures and SAS Investors and another $7 million in Series B round of funding from Constellation Ventures and existing investors.
With the funding the company also struck some notable deals.
It partnered with NBC and launched four groups on the site: NBC4, NBC5, NBC10 and Football Frenzy. NBC integrated Motionbox into its sites allowing users to upload videos, tag them and share them. The deal was similar to the one Jumpcut made with FoxAtomic. Apart from this, Motionbox also clinched a deal with Arukikata, a prominent Japanese travel site. It will power the site’s video sharing service. In 2007, the company also announced a deal with Apple TV wherein its users will be able to share HD-quality videos via the Apple TV. This became a feature in the premium user account in the last quarter of 2007. The company had also partnered with Capitol music group to launch a promo.
Although, Motionbox offers a lot more features than Youtube, it is yet to reach the scale Youtube operates at. According to Quantcast, Motionbox attracts 19,229 U.S. uniques a month whereas Youtube attracts 53 million U.S. uniques a month. Even Crackle that is aiming an entirely different demography attracts 1.3 million U.S. unique a month. Jumpcut—which was acquired by Yahoo in 2006— another player in the video editing arena is faring better. It attracts 110,000 U.S. uniques a month.
Part of these statistics, of course, are reflective of the company’s strategy to white label products to other sites like NBC. Thus, traffic using Motionbox is often at those other portals.
Acquirers could, thus, also come from those media company partners who are using their technology, and of these, NBC is the most likely one.
If the company needs further funding, however, this would not be a good time to raise money.
This segment is a part in the series : Deal radar 2008