Media

[Exclusive] Video curation platform Magnify gets backing from former Facebooker Chris Kelly

We’re in the age of billions of video clips on YouTube and other sites, and it’s overwhelming.

Want to find a video of the protests in Syria? There were more than 350,000 uploaded last year to YouTube alone. How do you find the best one?

That’s why Magnify, a New York startup, is betting online publishers will want to help viewers find the “best” videos, and it has built a platform to let them do that. It lets publishers curate videos, using their own judgment about how to order videos — giving them ways to profile certain videos by tagging and other variables, and letting them bury others. Magnify has almost finished raising $1M, as a first tranche of a total $7M planned second round of funding, VentureBeat has learned. Leading the round is Chris Kelly, the former General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook, who also ran for Attorney General of California in 2010.

The company, which until last year had served enterprise, is now focused on serving any publisher of content, including consumer sites. Aside from offering curation tools, Magnify also lets sites aggregate and host content. Take a look at the site of popular event company, TEDx, for example. Not only does Magnify let TEDx pull in all of its videos from YouTube in an organized way, it offers a nice index box on the left to help users find videos according to language, most popular, and so on. It supports the import of videos from almost any other site, including from YouTube.

There are a number of other video curation tools on the market: Vodpod and ShortForm, for example. There are also companies such as Brightcove and Ooyala, which are online video platforms for uploading, encoding and hosting video. While Magnify overlaps with several of these with its features, none of these competitors give offer curation tools to such an open and customized extent, says CEO Steve Rosenbaum. For example, if  a customer site already works with Brightcove, Magnify plays nice and lets the customer import the Brightcove player, but Magnify still manages the site’s video page design and aggregation. Magnify’s other customers include New York Magazine, Vibe.com, USAFootball.com, and the Lincoln Center in New York.

Magnify averaged 7 million video views a month across its customers, and expects to be profitable by the second quarter, Rosenbaum said.
The company will use the funds to invest in its technical team and sales efforts, Rosenbaum said.

Kelly, the former Facebooker, has made several strategic investments in web companies, including in Path in 2010, and more recently Evergram, Well and Galavantier.

In a statement to VentureBeat, Kelly said he thinks Magnify could become a sort of standard for publishers, or a “Wordpress for video curation on the Web.” He continued: “The combination of human editorial and algorithmic automation is still in its nascent stages. When I saw Magnify.net, I was able for the first time to imagine a world of video content organization that could rival conventional television and cable by providing publishers and brands with the tools to create unique, targeted, contextual video.”

The new financing round represents the first West Coast money in the company, Rosenbaum said. Rosenbaum founded the company in 2006, and the company has since pivoted twice. The company previously raised $2.7 million.

Last year, Rosenbaum was named New York City’s first Entrepreneur In Residence

[Editor’s note: Rosenbaum will join VentureBeat in an invite-only cocktail event in New York City on Feb 20, where we will debate whether New York City will remain the media center of the world, or whether the programmatic ad buying algorithms of Silicon Valley players like Google will take over. If you’re interested in joining us, please contact Shannon Dow with your title and company name.]

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