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BNI Video, formerly Beaumaris, tunes in $16 million from VCs and strategic investors

Posted by Scott Kirsner  October 12, 2010 08:00 AM

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conradclemson.jpgNot bad: video infrastructure player BNI Video in Boxborough is announcing a $10 million round this morning, bringing its total raised since June of last year to $16 million. Co-leading this round are Waltham's Castile Ventures and Time Warner Cable.

The press release is laden with buzz-phrases that say just about nothing about what BNI is up to: they will "drastically reduce time to market," "lower total cost of ownership," and "deliver richer, more personalized subscriber experiences." Oh, and the technology is also "simple, flexible, and scalable."

I asked CEO Conrad Clemson (pictured at right) how he'd explain what the company is doing if he were at a cocktail party. "We want to help companies like Comcast or Verizon get to every Internet-connected device in your house, whether that's your Xbox or your laptop. Our question is, why can't video reach you on all sorts of devices other than your TV? You should be able to find content on your laptop, surfing through a TV schedule, and ask that the content be shown on your TV set, because you want to go back to doing e-mail. We're creating the intelligence to do that." Today, he says, many customers may find that same flexibility by using services like Hulu on their laptop, or the Netflix service built into a Blu-ray player; Clemson wants to help cable companies and telcos stay competitive.

It's a big deal that BNI is backed by a mix of venture capital firms and strategic investors like Time Warner, Cisco, and Comcast Interactive Capital.

"This is a challenging business, and our customers are the video service providers," Clemson says. "Getting them as customers is like elephant hunting for a small company. The best way to make sure that we're lined up with them is to make them our partners."

Clemson says the company raised nearly $7 million last June from Charles River Ventures (where he'd been an entrepreneur-in-residence), Comcast, and Cisco. BNI has about 15 employees in Boxborough, ten in Philadelphia, and 35 in Beijing ? most of the company's engineering team.

Clemson's last start-up was Broadbus, where he was SVP of technical operations. That company was sold to Motorola in 2006 (for a reported $186 million), and Clemson went to Charles River Ventures for a time.

I asked him if that stint at CRV was in part to sit out a non-compete agreement with Motorola before starting his next venture. "That might've had something to do with it," he admitted.

Clemson is a first-time CEO, and he tells me that working with Broadbus CEO Vin Bisceglia "was like CEO school for me. I also picked up some from Bruce Sachs and the CRV guys. They said, if you really want to be a CEO, you've got to go out and get an order from someone."

Clemson started his career in tech while in high school at Philips Exeter, writing diagnostics for Stratus Computer, when that company had just 20 employees.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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