Slacker Snares $40 Million


If Last.fm was worth $280 million after raising just $5 million in venture capital, what about a social music company that’s raised more than $50 million? We may soon find out with Slacker Inc.

peHUB has learned that San Diego-based Slacker recently raised $40 million in Series B funding, which comes on top of a $14.5 million Series A round announced earlier this year. Centennial Ventures and Rho Ventures came aboard as new investors, while returnees included Austin Ventures, Mission Ventures and Sevin Rosen Funds.

Why would Slacker need so much cash when Last.fm got by with so little? Probably because the Slacker biz plan is a lot more ambitious. The initial launch was just a Web-based music player, which in many ways mirrored Pandora. Enter in specific keywords (like band names or genre), and out comes a personalized radio stream that you could modify by voting for or against specific tracks.

Next came the desktop music player (quasi-Last.fm), whereby users could organize music already on their computers – plus pay to download all “favorited” songs from the personalized online radio streams.

Ok, fairly pedestrian so far, at least by current digital music standards. Here is where the novelty comes in, and why Slacker needs so much cash: The company is creating its own WiFi-enabled mobile player device, which will allow users to take the personalized service with them on the go. Going even one step further, the Slacker device also can be enabled with a satellite linkup, so that service can be maintained even when WiFi is unavailable (like in the car).

Now that I think about it, maybe $53.5 million won’t be quite enough… If only because it will have to compete with iTunes, Zune, Sirius/XM, etc…

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