VC Thinks BitTorrent Is A Doll

    September 27, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

The file-sharing software company has raised $8.75 million in a funding round from Doll Capital Management.

Once upon a time, BitTorrent’s creator Bram Cohen raised money the way many bar bands do, by selling t-shirts.

Now that his company has moved to San Francisco, BusinessWeek notes how the newly commercial firm is raising money the old fashioned way – from venture capital firms. Doll Capital Management will put $8.75 million into BitTorrent’s efforts at becoming the peer-to-peer software of choice in Hollywood.

A big focus for that funding will see BitTorrent work on developing a content marketplace, aimed at BitTorrent users. That content could come from the big studios as well as from indie developers. (Mr. Navin said they have not yet announced a launch date for it, in response to a WebProNews email today.)

The firm’s top two officers, Mr. Cohen, who created BitTorrent, and CTO Ashwin Navin have made the rounds of such file sharing-unfriendly places as the MPAA and RIAA to help them see BitTorrent’s potential.

It seems as though Hollywood has a lot to gain from P2P distribution; Mr. Navin explained this in an August email:

“P2P is definitely here to stay, but P2P networks are not. Competitive forces will compel content publishers to seek the most efficient way to bring content to market.”

P2P gets a lot of attention due to its misuse, and a lot of that attention comes from not fully understanding the technology. Even the media who cover technology issues closely sometimes misunderstand P2P. Mr. Navin went on to discuss why P2P as distribution method differs from P2P as a network:

“The press doesnt see the difference between P2P distribution and P2P networks. P2P distribution (a la Skype and BitTorrent for example) swap-in P2P resources without altering the use-case of VoIP, IM, downloading from the web, or whatever the application is: P2P is invisible to the user.

“A P2P network is clearly different — users submit to being a server in exchange for access to other “servers” in a perceived-to-be anonymous network.”

As the BusinessWeek report notes, BitTorrent has to adapt to other content distribution methods, like RSS and podcasting, and it plans to do so. Those technologies tend to deal with smaller file sizes, though.

Video content, especially high-definition video, fills much more file space. Current DVDs store about 4.7 GB of content, suitable for conventional films and programming.

Next generation DVD formats, like the proposed HD DVD and Blu-ray standards, will hold upwards of 30 GB. That seems a much more likely focus for the future of BitTorrent.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.