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Virtual-Cable Startup Layer3 TV Lands $51 Million Funding, Plans 2015 Launch

Layer3 TV, the secretive startup that calls itself a “next-gen cable company,” announced that it has closed $51 million in second-round funding, led by previous investors Evolution Media Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners.

The startup, formed in 2013, said it will launch some kind of virtual pay-TV service later this year — but so far, it has shed no light on what that will be, exactly, or how it will stand out in an increasingly crowded field.

The round brings Denver-based Layer3 to about $80 million raised to date. The latest funding comes from Evolution Media Partners, the investment company whose stakeholders include Evolution Media Capital, CAA, TPG Growth and Participant Media; North Bridge Venture Partners; and new investors Layer3 did not identify.

Layer3 TV was founded by cable veterans Jeff Binder, who founded VOD systems company Broadbus Technologies, and Dave Fellows, previously CTO at Comcast and AT&T Broadband. Both were former partners at venture-capital fund Genovation Capital. Last fall, the company hired Lindsay Gardner, former head Fox Networks’ affiliate sales and marketing, to lead its content strategy and acquisitions.

“Cable television may have dominated the business press this year but consumers continue to crave a simple, yet elegant, solution for managing the newest innovations in video, social and digital,” said Binder, Layer3 TV’s CEO. “Layer3 TV is the new cable — putting subscribers at the center of the universe by giving them seamless control of their entertainment relationships.”

Whatever Layer3 has up its sleeve, the company faces a much different landscape than when it was founded two years ago. Earlier this year, Dish Network’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue over-the-top pay-TV services publicly launched, and Verizon is plotting a wireless-centric OTT service to launch later in 2015. Meanwhile, programmers including HBO, CBS and Nickelodeon (and soon Showtime) are offering their own OTT services.

The startup’s investors, in any case, are bullish on its prospects. In statements, the key backers vaguely hinted at Layer3’s strategy.

“Layer3 TV’s platform is proof that technology and consumer experience can be aligned with programmers’ goals and objectives. Layer3 TV is rapidly becoming a trusted and valued partner to the content community by enabling consumers to engage with all of the content being distributed through various platforms,” said Rick Hess, founder and co-managing partner at Evolution Media Partners.

Added Jamie Goldstein, a partner at North Bridge, “From inception, Jeff’s and Dave’s vision of Layer3 TV has been to build the very best cable company and layer in the most cutting edge technology available. Their integration with social media, Internet of Things and diverse universe of content choices will make Layer3 TV the ultimate center of the living room,” said .

Layer3 TV moved its headquarters to Denver last year from Boston, receiving $2.9 million in job-growth tax incentives from Colorado.

The company’s name is a reference to the layers in the seven-layer network protocol architecture, with Layer 3 representing the network-routing layer.

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