LG15/Telegraph Ave. Morphs Into Eqal

logoThe digital studio that brought the world lonelygirl15--and helped kick off a cottage industry in original online content--is back with a new name and $5 million in series-A financing.

LG15/Telegraph Ave. Prods. reemerged this week as Eqal--a name intended to signify how studios of all shapes and sizes are on equal footing in the digital age.

The investment round was led by Spark Capital, along with Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, Mark Burnett Productions producer Conrad Riggs, tech investor Ron Conway and Georges Harik, former director of product management at Google.

Eqal CEO Miles Beckett, President and Chief Operating Officer Greg Goodfried--along with Mesh Flinders--launched "lonelygirl15" in June 2006. The serial, which documents the life of a fictional teen named Bree and her friends, quickly attracted millions of channel views on popular video sites like YouTube and Revver.

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Then, last summer, Beckett and Goodfried debuted "KateModern"--another hit series that launched on Bebo, a U.K.-based social network that AOL recently agreed to acquire.

The self-described "social entertainment company" will use the new funds to build its business with additional technology, programmers, developers and salespeople.

Users can expect the same degree of interactive and engagement content they have come to expect from Beckett and Goodfried.

"We take all the elements of interactivity and community that are a natural part of using the Internet and merge them with the best components of traditional storytelling, narrative and video production," Goodfried said.

Eqal presently has eight full-time employees, with "lonelygirl" and "KateModern" employing production units of 12-14 people apiece.

The company was profitable in 2007, making money from advertising, brand integration, and licensing and distributing deals. In one instance, Neutrogena partnered with lonelygirl15's producers to insert a Neutrogena scientist into the show's cast and plot. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Following lonelygirl15's success, a number of digital studios seeking to match its performance have emerged.

In March 2007, ex-Disney head Michael Eisner debuted his Vuguru production firm, which financed the popular Web series "Prom Queen." The next month, FunnyOrDie.com was started by actor/comedian Will Ferrell and his business partner Adam McKay with backing from Silicon Valley VC giant Sequoia Capital.

Also last year, United Talent Agency and Spot Runner--a digital agency partly owned by WPP Group--opened 60Frames Entertainment; Hollywood producer Albie Hecht debuted Worldwide Biggies; former Paramount Pictures president Gail Berman and former Yahoo Media Group head Lloyd Braun launched BermanBraun; and former MTV and CBS Radio executive Rob Barnett founded My Damn Channel.

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