Over 70 schools have signed up for 'Net mentoring program

Nibblebox, the training ground for broadband entertainment launched earlier this month by Dave Bartis, Doug Liman and Elizabeth Hamburg, has secured $5.5 million in first-round financing.

The investment was led by Internet incubator Knowledge Universe, which was co-founded by Michael Milken, his brother Lowell and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

Bartis declined to reveal the extent of the company’s contribution to the financing. Other investors are Entertainment Media Ventures, run by former U exec Sandy Climan; Windsor Media, run by former Warner chairman Terry Semel; and Tom Scott, co-president of Nantucket Nectars.

“We closed (the financing) in about a month,” Bartis said. “It was actually a surprisingly short amount of time. When we went out to show the business model we thought we would get some critical feedback, but when we presented it the companies told us, ‘Don’t go anywhere else. We’ll give you what you need.’ It was crazy.”

Bartis said that Nibblebox will team with universities to provide mentoring programs for students interested in creating original content for the Internet. More than 70 schools have signed up as affiliates, he said, including Harvard, MIT and USC.

“The way Nibblebox plans to bring together creative students with the industry’s hottest talents has the potential to expand the entire concept of Internet entertainment,” said Thomas Kalinske, prexy of Knowledge Universe.

Among the talent signed up to mentor students are John Leguizamo, Steven Soderbergh and Larry Karaszewski. The Web site is expected to go live later this spring.

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