YouNow raises $15 million to expand its live streaming social network

Meerkat and Periscope are the only non-gaming live streaming apps of note at the moment, but YouNow wants to change that by taking a rather unique approach to live streaming, and it now has $15 million in funding to help achieve that goal. What makes YouNow so unique is that it focuses heavily on social interaction, making it something of a live streaming social network where groups of people interact with each other in real-time. It’s definitely a niche product, but it still has a large enough audience that investors are interested. 

If you want to make or watch live, streaming video, you have lots of ways to do that: Meerkat and Periscope will let anyone stream (just about) anything, whenever, to whoever wants to watch. Facebook and YouTube will let people who have some degree of clout do it, too. YouNow has a different approach: The startup also lets anyone stream whatever they want from their phones. But the point of YouNow isn’t just to broadcast live — it’s to interact with your audience, and to let them chat with you, and each other, at the same time. This isn’t an idea that appeals to everyone, which means YouNow is still a niche product, where people watch other people sing, talk and even sleep. But it has enough people — most of whom are very young — and enough traction to attract more money from investors: The New York-based company has raised another $15 million, in a round led by Venrock and angel investor Oren Zeev. The round also included money from Comcast Ventures*, which is backing the company for the first time, and Union Square Ventures, which has invested for a few years. YouNow CEO Adi Sideman says his company has now raised $30 million since 2011; he won’t provide a valuation, but my hunch is that he’s now in the $150 million range.

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