Social TV Startup Miso Raises Funding

Sun co-founder leads new round

Social TV websites and apps may still be in their early, experimental phase, but they're already drawing decent-sized venture rounds. Miso, a startup that already had the backing of Google Ventures and Hearst Interactive Media, just announced that it has raised $4 million in new funding.

The round was led by Khosla Ventures, the firm founded by Sun Microsystmes co-founder Vinod Khosla. (Although Khosla is best-known for its cleantech investments, he also backs social networking and media companies like Meebo and SB Nation.) Google and Hearst participated too.

When it launched last year, Miso could be described as "Foursquare for TV"—users would check-in and tell their friends what they're watching. Since then, founder and CEO Somrat Niyogi says he has been constantly experimenting to build a more engaging product, one that he hopes will help Miso reach tens of millions of users, rather than its current count of 250,000. That means adding features like integration with paid TV services DirecTV and AT&T U-Verse. It also means killing features that don't work out, like the ability to unlock exclusive content when you check-in to a show.

Miso's closest competitor is probably startup GetGlue, but Facebook and Twitter are also trying to create social experiences around TV.

More broadly, Niyogi says that for Miso and its competitors, 2011 was a year of "education." The coming year will be one of "experimentation," as advertisers, for example, start testing campaigns on apps like Miso, he says.

Despite his optimism, Niyogi admits that many startups will struggle.

"In 18 months, it could be round two or three of failures for social TV," he says.