Time Warner invests $12M in You.i TV

The investment arm of one of the world’s largest media companies has thrown its weight behind a rapidly growing Ottawa technology firm.

You.i TV said Tuesday that it’s received a $12-million series-B funding round led by Time Warner Investments. Other investors included Vistara Capital Partners as well as existing backer Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors.

The backing of Time Warner comes as traditional broadcasters and content creators attempt to reach their audiences directly through their mobile phone, personal computer or smart TV.

The challenge is that all those different devices require custom codes, which means broadcasters need to employ massive teams of engineers to develop and maintain a suite of custom apps that look the same whether the viewer is consuming content on an iPhone or Xbox.

The problem is multiplied when a company has a plethora of distinct brands. Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting division, for example, owns CNN, TBS and the Cartoon Network, among many others. 

That’s where You.i TV comes in.

The Ottawa-based company’s software allows developers to use a common code to build a variety of platforms.

“Those beautiful apps end up on every platform [looking] identical,” You.i TV co-founder and CEO Jason Flick told OBJ. “We’re solving such a massive IT problem for them and making this a viable business.”

He called Turner one of the most “audacious” media companies pursuing the direct-to-user experience, which made the tie-up between its parent company and You.i TV a solid fit.

In addition to receiving the cash infusion, You.i TV will also be adding Scott Levine, the managing director of Time Warner Investments, to its board.

You.i TV’s technology already powers several Turner brands including TNT and Turner Classic Movie’s upcoming direct-to-consumer app, FilmStruck. Other customers include Corus Entertainment and Netflix competitor Shomi, a subscription video-on-demand service that’s jointly owned by Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications.

You.i TV is one of Ottawa’s fastest-growing companies and has increased its headcount from fewer than 100 employees a year ago to about 180 today, Mr. Flick said. One of those new hires is Dan Beer, the company’s first chief operating officer who joined the firm this summer.

Mr. Flick said he expects the company’s payroll to exceed 200 employees by December.

This is You.i TV’s second multimillion-dollar investment in the past 12 months.

Almost one year ago to the day, the company announced it received a $15-million financing round led by Los Angeles-based Kayne Partners.

Mr. Flick said the two investment rounds have allowed the company to focus on scaling up, rather than cash flow. You.i TV was previously a bootstrapped company turning a profit, he said.

Mr. Flick said a future public listing was one of several possible avenues under consideration to allow the company to continue growing.