Building B Gets New Backers

Company Aims to Market Single Set-Top Device that Marries Broadcast and Broadband Video

Building B, an upstart digital-media company that aims to market a single set-top device that marries broadcast and broadband video for display on living room TVs, received $17.5 million in new funding from venture-capital firms Morgenthaler Ventures, Omni Capital and Index Ventures, as well as some private investors.

It is the first outside financing for Building B, which was founded a little over one year ago by Dr. Buno Pati, a former Harvard engineering professor who went on to become a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and Phil Wiser, former chief technology officer for Sony Corp. of America.

The Belmont, Calif.-based firm aims to launch a subscription-based video service sometime next year.

While both Pati, who is Building B’s CEO, and Wiser, who is chairman and president, are loathe to give many technical or operational details about their plans, they said they aim to use wireless technology, not fixed-line connections, to deliver broadcast video, movies and Internet video to a next-generation set-top.

“We are really focused on wireless as the connection to the device,” said Wiser, adding that terrestrial digital television and WiMax are two potential delivery methods. In that vein, the company counts veterans of both failed DTV multichannel service USDTV and WiMax provider Clearwire among its executive ranks.

Pati added that Building B (named after a barn at Pati’s home that he used as an office) will position its service as “a perfect video companion” to telcos that are offering voice and data bundles to customers today.

Coincident with the funding announcement, Building B also announced several additions to its board of directors, including Andy Lack, chairman of Sony BMG Music Entertainment and former NBC president and chief operating officer; Bob Pavey, partner with Morgenthaler Ventures; and Dr. Arun Netravali, managing partner of Omni Capital Group.