Ustream, the Silicon Valley based live-streaming service, has taken in 20 million in funding from Japan’s Softbank Corp. Softbank is aiming to invest an additional $55 million in exercised shares, which would make them to top shareholder in the company by July 2011.
“Assuming all available options granted to the Company to acquire additional shares are exercised by July 2011, the Company’s total investment is expected to be approximately USD 75 million (investment ratio expected over 30%) and will result in the Company becoming Ustream’s top shareholder.”
According to the press release, and comments by the founders in the mainstream press, Ustream will use the funding to move into Japan, China, Korea and India. All of which represent a huge opportunity based on consumers use of video-equipped smart-phones in those countries.
Ustream, which was founded by two former Army officers to better communication in the field, opened in its doors in March 2007 with services that enable users to distribute and watch live videos anytime by PC and mobile phones. Currently, Ustream has more than 50 million monthly viewers. While these viewers can watch feeds as ridiculous as “Ocho Cinco” asking for Xbox help and showing off his fish tank, the service has also struck up deals with all the major networks as partners in live-video broadcasting.
For instance, Ustream worked with ABC and NBC to stream the American Music Awards and Golden Globes respectively on Ustream. It also has collaborations in place with premium content holders of movies, music and sports. Users can also communicate with each other while enjoying videos through Ustream’s collaborations with Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.
As we covered before, Ustream’s tie-up with Facebook has created a huge opportunity for brands and celebrities to broadcast live to consumers on the social networking site. According to Facebook, a live following of one of the first Jonas Brothers’ Ustreams led to 1.5 million updates – averaging 23,000 posts per minute – and more than 100,000 viewers.
In addition, Ustream is also highly concentrated on making the mobile, live-streaming experience better. Something that will be very important in Asia. Downloads for the Ustream iPhone application has exceeded 1.5 million and the number of users is surging, driving expectations for further growth going forward.