Internet TV company, Joost, raises $45M

Internet TV company Joost has raised $45 million in a whopper round of venture financing, giving it a significant war-chest to spend just as its product hits the market.

Lead investors were Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures. CBS Corporation, Viacom and the foundation of Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing also participated, according to the company, in a statement to VentureBeat Wednesday evening.

Despite being relatively untested, Joost has gained publicity because it was started by Skype co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström. It has signed deals with several companies, including Viacom, CBS and Time Warner, to carry their content. Some reviewers have been less that excited about the product, however. VentureBeat has received an invitation to review the product, which is still in testing mode, but we have not yet tried it.

It is the first reported round of outside funding for the company.

Index also backed Skype, which used a peer-to-peer technology for phones that Joost is now using for TV. The question now is whether Joost can use its publicity momentum — and now, impressive funding — to take on folks like BitTorrent, which has been playing with peer-to-peer video for sometime, and numerous other Internet TV start-ups. Some competitors, such as Akimbo, are struggling, pitching things like set-top products that are more expensive than the near-free peer-to-peer technology offered by Joost.

Roelof Botha, general partner at Sequoia Capital, led the firm’s investment in Joost. He was also the lead investor in YouTube, a short-length video site — different from Joost, which wants to show full-length video.