Peel gets $16.7M for your TV-viewing pleasure

Faith Merino · May 2, 2011 · Short URL:

The iPhone-controlled TV solution gets support from Lightspeed and previous investors

We all dream about the day we can finally use our smartphones to change the channels on our TVs, and now, classic American laziness is getting help from classic American ingenuity to make that dream a reality. Peel, creator of the Peel “Fruit” that lets you use your iPhone to select TV channels, announced Monday that it has closed a $16.7 million Series B round of financing led by Ravi Mhatre from Lightspeed Venture Partners, with help from Redpoint Ventures and several of the angels who have previously invested in Peel.

Founded in 2009, Peel is an up-and-comer in par with TiVo, Netflix, and Google TV in its endeavors to change the way people watch TV. Users have the option of downloading the iPhone or iPod Touch app on its own, which makes program recommendations based on the user’s viewing preferences, or pairing the app with the Peel “Fruit,” a little wireless calabash-shaped unit that interacts with your device and your home entertainment system to allow you to control channels, volume, DVR, and more. The “Fruit” also works with Blu-Ray So picture sitting on your couch, watching TV (you lazy American!), and browsing your Peel app to see what else is on. Look at that—you forgot that True Blood was on! With one tap, you can select that show and automatically change the channel on your TV set to that program.

"Peel is at the forefront of a profound shift in how people watch television and we are proud to be a part of the Peel team," said Ravi Mhatre in a statement. "Peel is the 21st century way to interface with TV. It enables discovery, control and sharing of living room entertainment in a very slick and simple way. It will revolutionize how entertainment is consumed in the living room."

Indeed, if I wasn’t so cheap and was willing to pay for anything beyond basic cable, this would certainly revolutionize my TV-watching habits (although I currently enjoy the added perk of being able to lump myself in with the cultural elite when I snootily tell people that I don’t watch TV…?)

The “Fruit” is available at Apple retail and online stores for $99.95…but your peace of mind knowing you’ll never have to worry about losing a remote again: priceless.

Redpoint Ventures, which has also invested in TiVo and Netflix, previously contributed to Peel’s undisclosed Series A round of funding. Prior to that, the company raised seed funding from Michael Dearing from Harrison Metal, Mitch Kapor from Kapor Capital, and Steve Anderson from Baseline Ventures.

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The Peel Personalized TV Experience combines intuitive program discovery, seamless remote control and interactive program engagement and sharing.

TV Discovery: Peel helps you discover great TV in two ways:

1)    Intelligent Recommendations – Tell the Peel app what shows you like, and the Peel algorithm will recommend shows you’ll love.

2)    Social Curation – Connect with friends and family in the Peel app, and be inspired by your network. Learn friends’ favorites and guilty pleasures. Get great recommendations, and see what others are watching right now.

Stop staring at the grid guide and start watching shows you’ll love.

Smart Remote Control: Once the desired show is tapped, the app and Peel Fruit work as a universal remote control to display the show on your TV by turning on everything necessary to enjoy the program, including your TV, set-top box, DVD, Blu-ray player and AV audio system.  

Real-Time Social Interaction: The Peel 2.0 app is Social TV done right by letting us enjoy the chatter around our favorite shows with our friends and family. Share your favorite shows or “guilty pleasures”, as well as see what your friends and family are watching, follow contacts, post show recommendations and comment on posts.