Pocketwatch, a new kids’ media startup, has locked in a $6 million funding round led by Third Wave Digital and investors including CBS CEO Les Moonves and Robert Downey Jr.
Other investors include producer Jon Landau, United Talent Agency and Chris Jacquemin, a partner and the head of digital media at WME.
Pocketwatch intends to use its first round of financing to build out media channels on platforms including YouTube, develop new premium franchises, and lure in popular YouTube creatives. The company is promising to grant a “significant” amount of equity to creators that sign on.
The Pocketwatch brand is eyeing a summer launch and will be targeting kids age five to 11, with additional brands aimed at preschool and parents planned for later this year.
“Pocketwatch’s mission is to create the ultimate headquarters for kids in a vast entertainment universe, that will celebrate all the stuff kids love,” said Chris M. Williams, CEO and founder of Pocketwatch, in a statement. “Having spent five out of the last 10 years at Disney, I’ve seen first-hand how challenging it can be for traditional kids media companies to embrace new business models. By bringing together a team of visionaries responsible for developing and producing some of the most beloved kids franchises in history and combining them with digital natives, creators and experts known for creating short-form videos consumed by millions of kids, Pocketwatch is creating a new blueprint for a multiplatform entertainment company.”
Williams, former chief audience officer at Maker Studios and former general manager of Disney Online Originals, will be helping drive that strategy along with Albie Hecht and Jon Moonves. Hecht is the former head of Nickelodeon and led development on titles including “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Dora the Explorer.” Moonves, younger brother of Les Moonves, is an entertainment lawyer who has worked with Apple and the NFL on digital content initiatives.
“There is no other founding team or company better positioned to transform the kids’ digital entertainment space than Pocketwatch,” said Allen DeBevoise of Third Wave Digital in the statement. “With its innovative model and venture capital approach to fundraising, focusing first on content and brand development while growing distribution across all platforms, Pocketwatch is taking a really disruptive approach to attacking the white space in the ever expanding kids’ entertainment marketplace.”
Of course, Pocketwatch will have its work cut out for it as it will be competing directly against well-established kids’ programmers like Viacom’s Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. as well as SVOD services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, which have been investing significantly in children’s programming.