Roku – Profile
HQ: Palo Alto, CA
Management: CEO is Anthony Wood. He invented the digital video recorder (DVR) and this is his sixth start-up (Roku = six in Japanese). Sounds legit to us. CTO Don Woodward worked at Replay TV and Macromedia.
Business Model: Roku has developed a digital media player and a music player that connect digital media files on your computer with home devices like your stereo and HDTV. If you’ve got 5,000 tunes sitting on your hard drive, Roku’s SoundBridge device allows you to listen to those songs on your computer. Digital media player allows you to view photos on your HDTV – doesn’t exactly strike us as a killer app.
Dirt: Roku is a privately-held consumer electronics company – this scares us. It takes time and money to build consumer products and then you’ve got to deal with retail channels. The management team looks well-suited to the challenge, but they’ve got to get an early hit to help underwrite growth. At least the top-of-the-line SoundBridge has a $500 price point – that should help.