Roku Has Sold 500,000 Internet Set-Tops, Eyes IPO

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Roku, the over-the-top video set-top provider spun off by Netflix, has sold 500,000 devices to date and is considering an initial public offering next year.

The startup -- whose broadband-attached devices let users access Netflix's streaming video service, MLB.tv and other content -- hopes to raise $30 million in new funding to further its business expansion, which including looking to line up at least 100 content partners this year, CEO Anthony Wood told Bloomberg News.

"We're not far away from the time when you'll be able to get the same kinds of channels that any cable operator can offer," he said in an interview with the news service.

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In 2010, Roku expects to double its revenue to $75 million and to have sold 1 million set-top boxes, Wood also said.

Roku spokesman Brian Jaquet confirmed the details in the Bloomberg report and added that while there are no specific plans for the IPO the company believes it may happen in 2011.

Netflix had hired Wood, founder of DVR startup ReplayTV, in 2007 to create an Internet set-top for streaming videos to the TV. Subsequently the video-rental company scrapped that idea and decided on a partnership strategy, whereupon Netflix invested $6 million in Roku and Wood returned to head it up as CEO.

Saratoga, Calif.-based Roku has raised $24 million from investors including Wood, Netflix and venture-capital firm Menlo Ventures; Netflix recently sold its stake to Menlo.

Roku last fall launched its Channel Store, which lets third parties deliver content through the Roku service. The company added 10 new free channels: Blip.tv, Facebook Photos, Flickr, FrameChannel, Mediafly, MobileTribe, Motionbox, Pandora, Revision3 and TWiT.

Roku's Channel Store supports different business models, according to the company, including subscriptions (like MLB.tv and Netflix), pay-per-view or download-to-own (like Amazon.com) and ad-supported content.

Roku offers three set-top models: a $79.99 standard-definition-only box with composite output and 802.11b/g wireless; a $99.99 version with HD outputs and 802.11b/g; and the $129.99 "HD XR" unit that includes 802.11n and a USB port.

Wood said Roku plans to continue to introduce lower-priced set-tops, and added that at some point the box could be free, according to Bloomberg.

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