Younity raises $8M Series A for cross-platform data unity

Going directly after Plex and its hefty-priced "Plex Pass," Younity secures new funding

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
December 3, 2015
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[UPDATED 2015-Dec-10: Corrected a statement regarding how Younity compares to Plex.]

Younity, an iOS app for streaming media from your Mac, today announced an $8 million Series A round of funding led by venture capital firm Marker LLC with participation from Tim Draper’s Associates and PROfounders Capital. Rick Scanlon of Marker will join younity’s board.

Draper and PROfounders in 2013 invested in Younity’s $3.5 million seed round, which also saw contributions from Crosslink Capital, Draper Associates, PROfounders Capital, Lowercase Capital, Bebo creator Michael Birch, Tekton Ventures, Knight & Bishop, Kamran Pourzanjani, Brian Lee, Brad Jones, and others.

Here’s the beautiful idea that younity is selling: You want to easily access your music, videos, photos and documents no matter whether you’re using your iPad, iPhone, or Mac. But you don't want to have to deal with syncing/uploading constantly or having to pay for storage limits.

So you download younity to your mobile device(s) and Mac, set everything up, and then start streaming your data from whichever device you prefer.

“Consumers should be able to access their content anytime, anywhere, and this funding allows us to continue to make this belief a reality,” said Erik Caso, co-founder and CEO of younity in the press announcement.

There are a couple issues that come to mind.

First, younity isn’t exactly lightning fast. I downloaded the app to my phone and computer, pointed it to a folder with 10 GB of music, and still couldn’t see any of it on my phone after half an hour. So the setup process takes some time, and who knows about the actual streaming capabilities.

Though I didn't end up seeing my files on my phone until several hours later, younity CEO Erik Caso tells me that "typically, 10GB of data would be scanned in a minute or two." So when the app works as it's supposed to, it should be lightning fast.

Second, this is not the first company to try solving this need, and they probably won’t be the last. Many of the major technology players actually try to solve this with their own proprietary services (i.e. Apple offers iCloud and iTunes Match for data and music syncing). Then there’s Box and Dropbox and tons of other file syncing services.

Of course, younity has an advantage over these players: “While most companies build giant storage solutions, they’re building an access platform that doesn’t care where media is stored - online or offline,” said Rick Scanlon, co-founder and partner at Marker and younity’s new board member.

The other major advantage of younity is that random data and documents aren’t its focus. Because it focuses specifically on media (music, videos, photos), the app is designed with those kinds of experiences in mind.

It’s this functionality that makes Plex its most serious competitor. Already well-established in the market, the free Plex app offers the same streaming capabilities as younity. The one difference is younity also lets you download from the server to the app, free of charge. To get this same feature on Plex, users must upgrade to a Plex Pass subscription.

Plex Pass subscribers also get premium features like TV apps, cloud sync to Dropbox and Google Drive, and more. On a monthly basis, the Plex Pass costs $60 yearly, while a yearly subscription costs $40. Or, if you're hardcore about it, you can jump for the lifetime $150 pass.

Younity says it has “unified” over 1.4 billion files for its users, representing more than 9.5 petabytes of data.

The company says it will use its new funding to improve the app, hire new team members in Encinitas, CA and Boulder, CO, and expand its office space.

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Description: younity creates a personal cloud for all your files, built from your devices and your online services, so that all your devices work as i...

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