Vessel announced a new financing this morning, which sources close to the company pegged at $57.5 million. The round was led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), which has also invested in Netflix, Twitter, Snapchat and other consumer-facing media companies. Prior investors Benchmark, Greylock Partners and Bezos Expeditions also participated. Total funding for Vessel now stands at approximately $134.5 million.
As I've previously written, Vessel is a huge willingness-to-pay test case, which, if it succeeds, will have broad ramifications for the online video industry. Vessel's bet is that super-fans will be willing to pay $2.99/month to get early access to their favorite video, which includes a light ad load.
Vessel believes that model can drive improved economics for creators. With hundreds of creators on board so far, including the recent addition of clips from Ellen DeGeneres, Vessel is off to a strong start. I was impressed with my own hands-on review of Vessel a couple months ago.
More broadly, the big new Vessel financing is the latest in a series of huge shifts that are underway across the video landscape. 2015 is just 4 1/2 months old, but we've already seen a proliferation of major moves, including the launch of HBO Now, a raft of new OTT subscription services, new pricing and packaging approaches from Sling TV and today from Verizon, the ongoing decline in linear TV network audiences, Facebook's emphasis on video, strong Q1 momentum from Netflix and big financing rounds for video ad tech companies, among other news. Just ahead are 35 NewFront presentations, the rumored launch of Apple and Verizon OTT services and much more.
Online and mobile video are now unquestionably the top priorities for every established and early stage media company. We're smack in the middle of a perfect storm driven by wired and wireless broadband, a proliferation of high-quality connected/mobile viewing devices, robust monetization, a dizzying variety of high-quality vide programming and key changes in viewers' behavior.
2015 is looking more and more like the inflection year for online and mobile video.