FORA.tv Raises $4 Million Round from Hearst, Adobe, Others

By on 05/07/2008 8:44 AM @beet_tv

FORA.tv, referred by TechCrunch as the "C-SPAN of the Web," has closed a Series A round of venture funding with $4 million from William Randolph Hearst III, Adobe Ventures and other investors.  Hearst and Adobe were investors in the original $2 million seed round. 

The San Francisco start-up organizes videos of symposiums and conferences from think tanks, universities and other institutions. The clips are organized on the site around various topics and channels.  The site was just redesigned to allow a greater degree of personalization.

William Randolph Hearst III, a Kleiner Perkins affiliated partner and now a private investor, told Beet.TV:

"FORA’s financing is a vote of confidence for the
company. It will make it possible to aggregate much more public commentary from
all points of the spectrum. FORA’s new 2.0 release software adds features that
let sponsors add their own searchable content to the video archive. It’s very
cool."

Mr. Hearst’s investment is private and not related to Kleiner or the Hearst Corp.

Brian Gruber, founder and CEO of FORA.tv and a former head of marketing for C-SPAN, told me that proceeds of the funding would be used to expand audience and content. 

While traffic to the site is modest, the audience is highly educated and influential.  Big corporations seeking visibility are buying sponsorships on the site.  Present sponsors include Pfizer and Chevron.  Brian says that this small but desirable audience will command high ad dollars, similar to the leverage of the Economist.

Intelligent programming is finding a place on Web.  The most successful in terms of traffic is TED Talks.  A notable newcomer is BigThink.  The big daddy of them all, with some 4000 hours of  content, is Charlie Rose. This summer Rose will unveil a redesigned site which will make the clips much more sharable.

I have reposted my interview with Brian from last year.

— Andy Plesser

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