June 27, 2008 / 4:04 AM / in 10 years

Web animation site aniBoom raises $10 million

NEW YORK (Reuters) - AniBoom.com, an Internet home for animators to create and share their work, has raised an additional $10 million in funding led by venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

A screen grab of AniBoom.com. REUTERS/www.aniboom.com

Other investors in its second round of financing, due to be announced on Friday, include Israel’s DFJ Tamir Fishman Ventures and existing stakeholder Evergreen Venture Partners, which had invested about $4.5 million last year.

Founder and President Uri Shinar says the company is building a virtual studio for animators, aiming to find a home for their work across all media and advertising outlets.

“The big studios are only focusing on big movies and television (series),” Shinar told Reuters. “Creators need to feel safe, that you are talking to them.”

But aniBoom can serve an audience, largely of young adults, who are keen on short-form entertainment that has the added benefit of being less costly to produce, he said.

AniBoom is producing 20 animated short web series and will begin launching them to the public in July. Founded in 2006, the company has begun to see signs of competition from major media players who are taking notice of the market’s potential.

Last month, News Corp’s Fox said it would launch an incubation venture for new animation talent, while reality show producer Mark Burnett signed a deal with the Liquid Generation site to develop cartoon comedies for television.

Several other media conglomerates and entrepreneurs have also tapped into the Internet’s vast community of creators to try and identify the next great director of traditional feature films, or TV shows.

On Thursday, Viacom’s MTV Entertainment relaunched its AtomFilms division as Atom.com, describing it as an “online community of creators and viewers” and a source for new comedy programming across media outlets.

“The competition in a way is a good indication for that there is a market there,” Shinar said. “The challenge right now for us is to take the assets we have gained and take the community of animators into the next phase.”

Since its creation, aniBoom has built partnerships with video sites such as Google’s YouTube, Veoh Networks and Metacafe, as well as mobile entertainment deals with companies like MobiTV in the United States and Italy’s Buongiorno.

In March, it ran a contest with pioneering British rock band Radiohead to create a video clip for its “In Rainbows” album, receiving more than 900 entries.

Shinar estimates that about half of aniBoom’s 4,000 participating animators are professionals who have made it their career, with many of the remainder working on the art form on a part-time basis.

The company has seen modest revenue from shared advertising income on featured clips across the Internet, but Shinar is betting on a bigger model for distributing entertainment if the site can launch a major animation hit.

Editing by Tim Dobbyn

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