Social radio service Jelli announced Tuesday it has closed a $9 million round of funding led by new investors Intel Capital and Relay Ventures, with participation from existing investor First Round Capital and individual investors including Roger Ames, former chairman of both Warner Music Group and EMI Music Publishing and current Chief Executive Officer of International at Ticketmaster. Intel Capital and Relay Ventures have received seats on the company's board of directors.
While Internet radio services like Pandora try to disrupt the traditional radio market, Jelli is working to help radio reinvent itself: It's a platform that turns a terrestrial radio station into a user-generated radio station. Users vote up or down songs to create and alter playlists using the web site or app for iOS or Android. If enough people vote a song down, it gets pulled off the air.
There's definitely a gaming element on Jelli. Users use points for rockets (send a song to the top of the list) or bombs (destroy a song's score) based on how long they have been a Jelli member.
Jelli is using the fundraising news to announce that over 70 radio stations in the United States now use its platform (it was in 17 markets in the U.S. and Australia in May 2010, and started at Live 105 in San Francisco). Over the last 12 months, listeners on the Jelli platform have grown 250% to approximately 2 million listeners per month while total ad impressions served by the Jelli platform have increased by over 500% to over 60 million per month.
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The company plans to use the new funding for product development and sales growth. CEO and founder Mike Dougherty tells Billboard.biz the company will invest further in its ad platform and develop additional real-time engagement and measurement and targeting tools for its radio station partners.
Dougherty calls Jelli's revenue model "Doubleclick for traditional radio." Jelli sells radio spots to national advertisers. A partner station allocates unsold spot inventory to the Jelli platform and airs radio spots served automatically by Jelli. The station receives a payment for each advertising spot based on a pre-negotiated revenue-share deal.
The company had previously raised $5 million round in Series A funding in May 2010 led by Battery Ventures with participation from First Round Capital. It also raised $2 million in seed funding in late 2009 from First Point Capital, Triple Point Capital and a host of individual investors.