Spark Capital Leads $5 Million Investment in Lonelygirl15 Producers

4/18/08Follow @wroush

Boston’s Spark Capital is the lead investor in a $5 million funding round for Eqal (pronounced “equal”), the Los Angeles-based independent studio behind the cult YouTube video series Lonelygirl15.

Spark’s Bijan Sabet announced the investment in his personal blog yesterday, and the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek have published pieces examining the deal.

Eqal was formerly known as LG15 Studios, and gained fame in 2006 after fans and reporters from the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times outed lonelygirl15, the supposedly real 16-year-old posting the original YouTube videos, as a 20-year-old actress named Jessica Rose. But the publicity around the outing only increased interest in the series, which evolved into a Web-based hybrid of The Blair Witch Project and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, distinguished by jumpy handheld videography, a convoluted plot involving a group of young adults battling a shadowy global conspiracy, and interaction with fans through online discussions whose themes are frequently woven back into the plot. A spinoff called KateModern debuted last summer.

Founded by former plastic-surgery resident Miles Beckett and entertainment attorney Greg Goodfried, Eqal calls itself a “social entertainment company” and plans to launch new interactive series created by independent producers. Both Lonelygirl15 and KateModern “are highly successful shows, created around communities…and paid for by sponsors upfront,” Sabet said in his blog. “We believe in that recipe and love the shows. And we believe in Miles & Greg’s vision.”

Netscape founder Marc Andreesen joined the investment round, along with Silicon Valley investor Ron Conway, Hollywood producer Conrad Riggs, and former Google executive Georges Harik.

Below: the very first episode of Lonelygirl15. (Fair warning—LG15 is huge time sink; hundreds of episodes follow this one.)

Wade Roush is Xconomy's chief correspondent and editor of Xconomy San Francisco. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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