Fireside, the Mark Cuban-backed interactive entertainment app, has now confirmed its $25 million Series A valuation, valuing the company at $138 million, post-money. The company was rumored to raise $125 million last year after attracting a number of high-profile creators to its streaming platform for live and virtual shows. The funding and valuation were confirmed by Fireside’s recent investor update, obtained by AapkaDost, which also lists new strategic investors, such as Paris Hilton and others, and offers a first look at its interactive streaming technology for smart TVs.
The latter is made possible by the acquisition of the streaming TV platform Stremium last year. At the time, Fireside confirmed the deal would help it accelerate its plans, saying it would be “the only platform turning creators, celebrities, brands and IP owners into the studio, networks and streaming services of the future.”
The company hopes to soon bring its interactive technology to smart TVs, Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku, where viewers can view content on the big screen and comment on their phones, while their comments are displayed on the TV.
Fireside, available for comment, confirmed the accuracy of the investor update, but said it had nothing more to add at this time.
The update confirms previous reports that Fireside’s Series A was closed, which had not yet been officially announced.
It also confirms the newly added strategic investors, including Paris Hilton, Tim Connors of PivotNorth, Zeke Bronfman + Evan Abraham, Redbeard Ventures and David DeVoe.
While Fireside had once been compared to other live platforms such as Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse, those comparisons were completely wrong. Not only does Fireside stand out for its focus on streaming interactive videos, the shows on its platform can also be recorded, saved or even broadcast simultaneously to other social networks.
In addition, the app includes a number of audience engagement tools and other features to help creators promote, edit, measure, distribute, monetize, and grow audiences, which are part of the end-to-end content production experience.
Co-founded by Cuban early Yammer contributor Mike Ihbe (who has since left) and former co-founder of Googler, YouTuber and Node Falon Fatemi, who sold her last company to SugarCRM, Fireside has attracted high-profile creators including Jay Leno, Michael Dell, Melissa Rivers, Craig Kilborn and screenwriter and ‘Entourage’ creator Doug Ellin.
In the investor update, the company also refers to popular Hollywood medium Tyler Henry as one of its creators, saying its network has grown to “tens of thousands of members worldwide” who connect with him “several times a month.”
The startup is also getting its own Hollywood moment, as reality TV star Heather Dubrow of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Orange County will launch a lifestyle network, the HD Network, on Fireside on May 9. a promotion as part of Season 17 of The Real Housewives of Orange County in which both Fatemi and Cuban will appear.
Partly thanks to the integration with Stremium, Fireside will involve other partners on its platform. The deal brings “more than 100 new networks” with “live interactive programming 24/7”. This includes names like USA Today, ArtFlix Movie Classics, Billiard, Boxing, Ted Talks, Docurama, English Football, eSports, Global Fashion Channel, InspireFlix, Law & Crime, MMA and others.
These channels have an “On Now” indicator in the Fireside app, allowing users to watch, comment and interact with other viewers.
This technology is something that is popular in other streaming apps outside the US, such as Rakuten’s Viki, which allows users to watch and comment on shows in real time. More recently, a new streaming service Mansa, focused on black culture, added a similar feature.
The investor update also mentioned that talent, brands and IP owners can earn a minimum of $35 million in annual recurring net new revenue stream in their first year at Open fire. The company said it now sees a “minimum of $100,000” within the first few hours of a stream launching.
Creators can monetize their shows by selling tickets or inserting advertisements. The company had also been exploring web3 technologies such as NFTs, although they were not referenced in this latest update.
Besides Cuban himself, other investors in Fireside include the Chainsmokers, HBSE, Goodwater, Animal Capital, NFL stars Larry Fitzgerald (retired) and Kelvin Beachum, and former NBA star Baron Davis. The company says it aims to turn profitable this year and is being evaluated for a Series B, looking at international strategic investors to expand globally.