When virtual MVPD fuboTV this week announced plans to merge with Facebank Group and form a new company called fuboTV Inc., it may have left some wondering what exactly is Facebank.
FuboTV has emerged as a frequently mentioned independent competitor in the vMVPD space that is dominated by services like Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV and Sling TV, all tied to much bigger companies and household names Disney, Google and Dish Network, respectively.
Facebank, which sounds a little like Facebook opened a financial institution, is not as commonly known. The company describes itself as a “developer of hyper-realistic digital humans” that can be distributed across traditional media as well as live entertainment, virtual reality, augmented reality, mobile, interactive and artificial intelligence applications. Remember the Tupac hologram from Coachella a few years ago? That was Facebank, back when it was called Pulse Evolution.
Pulse Evolution in August last year bought Facebank AG, a Swiss holding company with controlling interests in businesses including a global ecommerce and software solutions platform. Through Facebank AG, Pulse acquired the majority of Nexway AG, a German ecommerce solutions company. Shortly after, Pulse changed its name to Facebank.
Now, it’s changing its name again to fuboTV Inc., with current fuboTV CEO David Gandler set to lead the soon-to-be-combined company. The company said the merger will boost fuboTV’s international expansion plans by giving it access to Nexway AG, which operates in 180 countries. FuboTV also said that it will potentially use Facebank’s IP sharing relationships with celebrities and other digital technologies to enhance its sports and entertainment offerings, which include the Fubo Sports Network.
However, a bigger reason for the merger may be the $100 million in funding that fuboTV gets access to through Facebank. In an SEC filing, Facebank disclosed that it obtained a secured revolving line of credit totaling $100 million as “a condition and inducement to the willingness of the fuboTV to enter into this agreement.”
The release of the funding is tied to the closing of the merger and fuboTV Inc.’s application, approval and listing for either the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange by July 1. Gandler sounded confident that would happen.
“In the current COVID-19 environment, stay-at-home stocks make perfect sense - we plan to accelerate our timing to uplist to a major exchange as soon as practicable,” he said in a statement.
For Facebank, the merger means it can hitch its wagon to fuboTV and Gandler, who co-founded the company in 2014. FuboTV has proven remarkably resilient in competing against its bigger vMVPD peers and if it can grow internationally, it will have accomplished something that its rivals have not.
For fuboTV, the merger means it will have the funds and infrastructure to fuel its growth.