Silicon Valley isn’t the only place where we see huge numbers thrown around. In Russia, the online video service ivi.ru recently closed a $40 million funding round led by Baring Vostok, a private equity firm. Other investors inculde ru-NET Ltd., Tiger Global, Prof-Media, and Frontier Ventures.
The site is bringing movie and TV streaming to Russia, much like Netflix has done in the U.S. and UK. This news is interesting to put in to context with Netflix and HBO’s plans to bring a streaming service to the Nordics by the end of this year, which is a safer bet, but much smaller market by comparison.
In their press release, they say the funding will be spent on content, development of the technology platform, and further strengtheing their position in the movile devices and Smart TV space. The service offers more than 65 000 titles form major Hollywood studios, as well as European and Russian film producers.
“Russian viewers are already used to watching video online, although until recently it has been mainly unlicensed movies and shows. Decreasing levels of piracy should help the growth of legal sites such as ivi.ru. Ivi.ru is the leader of online video in Russia, it has a very dynamic and professional team and it is supported by a very strong group of investors. It is a big honour for us to join this ivi.ru project,” says Elena Ivashentseva, senior partner at Baring Vostok Capital Partners.
It’s really remarkable how few US or even Nordic startups expand into the Russian market, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Russian startups start moving West instead. Ivi.ru seems to look at piracy as their main competitor, while I imagine Netflix and Hulu consider cable their main competition.