Fireside, the Mark Cuban-backed interactive entertainment app, has now confirmed its $25 million Series A, valuing the business at $138 million, post-money. The company had been rumored to be raising at a $125 million valuation 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 through Fireside’s recent investor update, obtained by TechCrunch, which also mentions new strategic investors like Paris Hilton and others, and offers a first look at its interactive streaming technology for smart TVs.
The latter is made possible through last year’s acquisition of the streaming TV platform Stremium. At the time, Fireside confirmed the deal would help it to accelerate its plans, saying it would be the “only platform that turns 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 could watch content on the big screen and engage via their phone, while their comments would display on the TV.
Reached for comment, Fireside confirmed the investor update’s accuracy but said it has nothing more to add at this time.
The update confirms the earlier reporting that Fireside’s Series A had closed, which it had yet to officially announce.
It also confirms the newly added strategic investors, including Paris Hilton, Tim Connors from PivotNorth, Zeke Bronfman + Evan Abraham, Redbeard Ventures and David DeVoe.
Though Fireside had once been compared to other live platforms like Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse, those comparisons weren’t at all accurate. Not only does Fireside differentiate itself with its focus on streaming interactive videos, the shows on its platform can also be recorded, saved or even simulcast to other social networks.
Plus, the app includes a number of audience engagement tools and other features to aid creators with promotion, editing, measurement, distribution, monetization and audience growth, which are part of its end-to-end content production experience.
Co-founded by Cuban, early Yammer employee Mike Ihbe (who has since departed) and former Googler, YouTuber and Node co-founder 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 references popular Hollywood medium Tyler Henry as one of its creators, saying his network has grown to “tens of thousands of members globally” who connect with him “multiple times per month.”
The startup is also going to have a Hollywood moment of its own, as reality TV star Heather Dubrow from Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Orange County will launch a lifestyle network, the HD Network, on Fireside on May 9. That’s given Fireside a bit of a promotion as part of The Real Housewives of Orange County Season 17, where both Fatemi and Cuban will appear.
Also thanks to its integration with Stremium, Fireside will be onboarding other partners to its platform. The deal brings “over 100 new networks” with “24/7 broadcasting live interactive programming.” 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 will have an “On Now” indicator in the Fireside app, allowing users to watch alongside other audience members and react and comment.
This technology is something that’s been popular in other streaming apps outside the U.S., like Rakuten’s Viki, which allows users to watch and react to 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 make a minimum of $35 million in annual recurring net new revenue stream in their first year on Fireside. The company said it’s now seeing a “minimum of $100K” within the first hours of a stream’s launch.
Creators are able to monetize their shows by selling tickets or inserting advertising. The company had also explored web3 technologies, like NFTs — though those were not referenced in this latest update.
In addition to 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’s aiming to reach profitability this year and is being evaluated for a Series B where it will look to include international strategic investors in order to expand globally.