Qwiki, a new service that delivers information through rich multimedia presentations, is raising an $8 million round of funding, according a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Palo Alto, Calif. company launched at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in September, where it won the top award. You still need an invitation to access the site, but the conference judges were obviously impressed by the presentation they saw last fall, and I was even more impressed when founder and chief executive Doug Imbruce sat down to show me the product a couple of months later.
The goal is to deliver a much richer information experience than what you normally find on the Web. Imbruce has compared the product to how computers work on science fiction movies like Wall-E: You ask about topics like “San Francisco” or “AOL” or “Natalie Portman”, then Qwiki delivers audio narration from sites like Wikipedia, accompanied by images and other media. Obviously, there are cases where you’re looking for quick bits of information and don’t want to bother with a fancy presentation, but if you want an engaging overview of a topic, Qwiki offers a good way to get that. The company also wants to work with publishers to deliver their content in a richer way.
And Qwiki will work on smartphones and tablets. Imbruce has said his team is working to develop a personalized experience as well, so, for example, every morning your phone could tell you about relevant weather, appointments, emails.
When asked about the filing today, Imbruce declined to confirm the funding. He only said, “Qwiki has generated a lot of interest from the investor community, acquirers, publishers and more.”
The filing says Qwiki has raised $5 million of the $8 million round already. The company previously raised $1.5 million in funding.