DFJ's Stealth CompaniesJustin Hibbard
Draper Fisher Jurvetson, the VC firm that hit the mother lode last year when its portfolio company Skype sold to eBay for $4.1 billion (including earn-outs), has a pair of potentially interesting startups in stealth mode.
Four-month-old Decentral.tv in San Rafael (Calif.) is developing what I will over-simplistically call social networking for television. Founder Daniel Graf calls it interactive Broadcast Broadband Communities, or iBBC. Graf was formerly a senior director at Phillips Consumer Electronics, where he developed the Streamium products and services.
The idea behind iBBC is that TV's traditional gatekeepers (i.e. networks, cable, and satellite) are losing control of distribution as consumers gain access to TV content through the Internet. This creates opportunities for new content that involves the participation of viewers and communities.
Decentral.tv raised $2.3 million last month in a series A round led by DFJ. DFJ partners Tim Draper and Howard Hartenbaum (who led DFJ's Skype investment) are on the board. Erik Abair, formerly of Phillips CE, is senior VP of engineering. Joe Elliott, formerly of ThumbJive and Sony Pictures Digital, is CTO.
DFJ stealth startup number two is one-year-old Celiro in San Jose (Calif.). It is developing software that personalizes the user experience on cell phones. Founder and CEO Ram Ramkumar was VP of engineering at antispam company MailFrontier, which was also funded by DFJ and sold to SonicWALL in February for $56 million. Celiro raised $540,000 last month in a series A round led by DFJ affiliate Draper Associates. Sean Fee, angel investor and interim marketing VP at Celiro, was formerly VP of marketing at Hotmail, DFJ's famous dot-com era investment. Jim Mansfield, also formerly of Hotmail, recently joined Celiro as marketing VP.