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Disney leads investment in online content producer Playbuzz

Thu 31 Mar 2016

Disney Playbuzz

Walt Disney Co has led an investment round in U.S.-Israeli digital content maker Playbuzz, as the entertainment giant looks for ways to expand its online media offering.

In today’s release, Playbuzz confirmed its latest funding reached $15 million (approx. £10 million), led by Disney and Saban Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Saban Capital Group. Existing Playbuzz investors, including 83North, Carmel Ventures and FirstTime Ventures, also contributed toward the total. The investment follows a $16 million funding round in 2015.

Playbuzz, founded in 2012 by Shaul Olmert and Tom Pachys, produces interactive content for brands including Pizza Hut and Unilever and publishers such as the Daily Telegraph and USA Today. While quizzes and games are the most popular format, the company also creates slide-shows, galleries, lists and video snaps.

Last year, British newspaper The Independent used a Playbuzz ‘swiper’ to ask readers to agree or disagree with policies proposed by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The firm said that it will be using the new funding to help boost its creation and distribution of native ad campaigns, as well as supporting its clients to create their own content.

Olmert, Playbuzz’s CEO based in New York, provided the following comments: ‘Playbuzz enables publishers and brands to create content that matches today’s content-consumption habits, while generating meaningful engagement and new monetisation opportunities. The support of global leaders in media, such as Saban and Disney, will enable us to expand both our editorial reach and sponsored content business.’

Olmert continued to argue that people today are becoming more and more impatient and no longer enjoy reading in traditional ways. He suggested that long-form articles and video ‘don’t make sense in an era where people discover content on a four-inch screen.’

The investment is the latest move by Disney into digital media, following two $200 million deals with Vice Media last year. The publisher, founded in Montreal in 1994 as a punk magazine, is now valued at $4 billion and is looking to launch its own TV channel ‘Viceland’ – to reach Sky UK customers this September.

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