Jason Kilar’s New Startup Has a Name, and a Whole Lot of Money
Former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar still doesn’t want to say much about the startup he has been working on since last fall. But he’s showing a little bit of leg today: Kilar has announced his new company’s name and some of his backers, who include his old boss Jeff Bezos.
This information comes from a new bare-bones blog post Kilar has published, which you can read at the bottom of this post. The basics:
- The new company, which has been working under the placeholder name The Fremont Project, will be called Vessel.
- It will focus on content, and particularly on video.
- It is being backed by Benchmark, Greylock and Bezos Expeditions, Bezos’s personal investment arm. (That last one shouldn’t be a surprise — prior to running Hulu, Kilar had been a longtime Amazon executive.)
- It promises to have “more to share by the end of the year.”
No word on how much Kilar raised, though I’m hopeful that will come out sooner than later. (Update: Sources say he has raised about $75 million in this round, which gives you an idea of his ambitions.)
While Kilar doesn’t mention it, Greylock’s David Sze and Benchmark’s Bill Gurley have joined his board. “I obviously feel privileged to have the opportunity to work directly with Jason and his team,” sais Gurley, via email. “I think he is one of the best entrepreneurs of our time.”
So what’s Vessel actually going to do? You’ll note that Kilar doesn’t say.
We do know that earlier in the year, Kilar made the rounds with traditional publishers, including the New York Times, News Corp., Hearst, Time Inc. and Conde Nast. At the time, he was pitching an idea where publishers would create a new “window” for their digital content, which he would offer to consumers via a subscription product.
But publishers I’ve talked to since then say that pitch didn’t seem to get traction, for multiple reasons. Meanwhile sources say Kilar has been talking to video creators, including Hollywood studios and talent agencies, about getting content for this project. But from the outside it’s hard to see what he could acquire that hasn’t already been spoken for by major distributors, including online outlets like Netflix and his old company.
But we will certainly ask!
For now, here’s the text of his post:
Hello from Vessel
We’ve been busy building a service whose mission is to delight consumers and content creators alike. Though we still have more work to do at Vessel, we want to share this brief update and reach out to the creator community. If you are a content creator, particularly a video content creator, we should talk!
We have assembled a unique and talented team, with strong experience building and innovating at places like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon. As a team, we are unusually passionate about the intersection of media and technology; we see an opportunity to improve media, particularly next generation video.
Our investors, led by Benchmark, Greylock Partners, and Bezos Expeditions (the personal investment company of Jeff Bezos) are world class and gifted builders. To have such an amazing group put their faith in us is energizing and humbling.
We’ll have much more to share prior to the end of the year. But for now, it’s back to work for us!
Dawn Chmielewski contributed to this report.