DECA, bringing Hollywood online, raises $5M

With the profusion of video sharing services on the internet, a number of startups are helping produce professional online content. Every Silicon Valley venture capital firm, it seems, wants to back one.

DECA, a Santa Monica, Calif., studio that calls itself “the best of Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and Silicon Valley,” is the latest to bring professional production values to computer screens and mobile phones.

The company’s initial funding round of $5 million would cover only a fraction of the production costs for a modern Hollywood blockbuster, but its a start. Backers are Mayfield Fund, General Catalyst Partners and Atomico Partners, the fund led by the Skype/Joost co-founder Niklas Zennström. The company is still bare on details, but it says it wants to scout for video ideas, and then develop them, finance them, and distribute them across the Web.

It also wants to use social networking, user generated content and other community features to drive the process. But the company itself will probably not appear in its productions, CEO Michael Wayne told us. “DECA is not consumer facing — consumers may never know what it is. When we fund a project, we bring in producers or production companies.”

In comparison to DECA’s operating model, most internet video companies (YouTube, MetaCafe, etc) have relied on users to submit their own home-made videos, which the companies hope will then go “viral” and spread around the internet. But lately, start-ups like National Banana, Funny or Die, Rockin Cat (see coverage), Crackle (see coverage) and others seeking to produce professional content, designed for viral Internet distribution from the beginning. The model has yet to prove itself.

The best example of someone making a successful viral video is lonelygirl15, a fictional character played by Jessica Rose. The videos became successful enough that the creators were able to parlay their fame into an ongoing series and a company called LG15.

Although DECA is vague on its current plans, Wayne says the company will be making further announcements about its projects in the coming weeks.