Flingo raises $7m to make your TV smarter

Flingo has raised $7 million in a Series A funding round led by August Capital. The San Francisco-based startup, which integrates streaming video and interactive advertising into smart TVs, has also added two new board members: August Capital’s David Marquart, as well as Howard Hartenbaum, founding investor in Skype.
Flingo’s software is embedded on 7.8 million Smart TVs and other devices from manufacturers including Samsung, LG, Vizio, Sanyo, Insignia, (s BBY) Western Digital (s WDC) and Netgear. (s NTGR) Its technology can be used for building apps that bring streaming Internet video to the TV, while also providing automatic content recognition that knows what program is playing when a viewer is watching live TV.
With that content recognition in place, Flingo can enable broadcasters to build second-screen applications that can send relevant content to a viewer’s TV, laptop, tablet or smartphone. It can also enable on-screen apps so viewers can share what they’re watching with friends and followers on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
The company has been bootstrapped since being founded in 2008, but co-founder and CEO Ashwin Navin told me in a phone interview that Flingo had reached a point where it needed additional capital to invest in infrastructure, personnel and for international expansion.
On the infrastructure front, Flingo fingerprints live TV as part of its automatic content recognition scheme, and wants to drastically ramp up the number of channels it indexes. Navin said he wants to be able to fingerprint thousands of channels simultaneously, which will require a fair amount of new infrastructure.
Part of the reason it’s looking to do thousands of channels is that it sees a large international opportunity. Flingo technology today is embedded on devices in 118 countries worldwide. The hope is that it will be able to leverage that footprint by striking deals in more countries. To that end, Navin is spending the next few weeks in Asia, looking to make key hires to expand the startup’s presence there.
Finally, there’s the possibility of some expansion through acquisition. Navin noted that there’s a large amount of talent in the social TV space, and that market segment in particular could see a shakeout soon. “I want to be able to acquire talent and teams” if that happens, he said.