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Internet Music-Video Startup Vadio Raises $7.5 Million, Taps Ex-Sony Exec Yair Landau as Chairman and COO

Vadio, a startup that provides technology to distribute music videos to Internet audio-based services, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding and named Yair Landau – former Sony Pictures Digital president – as chairman and COO.

The company also said Rio Caraeff, former CEO of Vevo, has joined its board of advisers. Venture-capital firm Marker LLC led the round, with participation from existing investors, which include Rogue Venture Partners, Manatt Digital Media, Amplify, Mucker Capital, ad agency Wieden+Kennedy and individual execs from the music and entertainment biz. The funding brings Portland, Ore.-based Vadio to about $10 million raised to date.

Vadio has a partnership with Vevo, which is majority-owned by Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, to deliver officially licensed music videos to music-streaming services. The startup has lined up initial customers including the U.K.’s Virgin Radio and Lachlan Murdoch’s Nova Entertainment in Australia, and with the new funding plans to expand into the U.S. and other territories.

“We are a B2B (business-to-business) company that provides music video content plus the tech for platforms – the Spotifys, Pandoras, iHeartRadios and Shazams of the world — that don’t incorporate video,” Vadio CEO Bryce Clemmer said.

Spotify, for one, is expected to launch a video service later this month, to augment its core music-streaming business. Clemmer declined to say if Vadio is working with Spotify.

Marker founding partner Rick Scanlon touted the startup’s prospects: “By offering a platform that both enables media companies to profit and grow and gives consumers an enhanced experience, Vadio is poised to reshape the music and entertainment industry,” he said in a statement.

Clemmer, 27, said he co-founded the company in 2012 when he was attending Willamette U. in Oregon. His co-founders are chief product officer Elliot Swan, lead mobile engineer Matt Polzin and software “neurosurgeon” Sam Oluwalana. “We were passionate about music, and we saw that you have destinations with massive audiences that stream music – but the biggest music platform in the world is YouTube,” Clemmer said. “We decided to build technology that would have the ability to deliver videos to any site.” Music videos are Vadio’s initial vertical-market target, but the company’s vision is to deliver video to any digital publisher across any category, he said.

Landau, who will be based in Vadio’s Santa Monica office, spent 17 years at Sony. During his career at the studio, he served as vice chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and president of Sony Pictures Digital, which comprised Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Pictures Animation and gaming unit Sony Online Entertainment. Most recently, Landau was a partner at MK Capital while serving as president of virtual animation studio Mass Animation, which he founded in 2008.

“We’re at a turning point in the music industry where audiences are seeking visual content now more than ever and companies need to understand that a visual component is no longer a nice to have – it’s a must-have,” Landau said in a prepared statement. “I share in Vadio’s vision that in the future, all digital music and media platforms will incorporate music videos, and am eager to help guide Vadio in delivering this visual component to even more existing streaming platforms to facilitate their growth.”

Caraeff, for his part, will provide guidance on strategy for the expansion of Vadio’s current product and service offerings. Caraeff left Vevo in December 2014; the company last month named Erik Huggers, who previously headed Intel’s Internet TV services group, as president and CEO. “I had the opportunity to work with the Vadio team when they partnered with Vevo, and I am looking forward to now being part of that team to help them continue making video streaming more available to the music industry and bring quality programming to passionate fans,” Caraeff said.

Vadio — pronounced “VAY-dee-oh” (rhymes with “radio”) — had eight employees about 45 days ago and has doubled headcount since then, Clemmer said. The company will likely double the number of its employees again by the end of this summer, he added, hiring primarily product and engineering areas. “We are focused on the end-user experience for each of these platforms,” he said.

Individual investors in Vadio include: longtime media exec Ed Wilson, who’s held senior jobs at Tribune, CBS, NBC and Fox Broadcasting; Marc Geiger, head of music at WME-IMG; Dean Gilbert, former global head of content and operations at YouTube; Jay Boberg, former president of MCA Records; and Bruce Eskowitz, former CEO of Live Nation Entertainment’s North America music division.

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