Two former top execs at now-defunct multi-channel network StyleHaul have launched their latest endeavor.
Stephanie Horbaczewski (pictured above) and Jeremy Houghton — StyleHaul’s former founder/CEO and CTO, respectively — have co-founded and will serve as co-CEOs of Vody, a big data startup aimed at enhancing content recommendations for streaming services, Variety reports. The company uses machine learning to search the web — including hundreds of thousands of website and social platforms like Facebook and Twitter — to compile a detailed database of movies and TV shows, which streaming services can then integrate for more accurate content recommendations.
Los Angeles-based Vody is coming out of stealth after two years in development, Variety reports, and has raised $10 million in Series A funding from Horbaczewsk herself, friends and family investors, Clemons Management, and Cacker Capital.
Vody processes billions of data points and then creates profiles for titles, using emotion-based and other descriptive tags. The off-platform perspective that it provides differs from the way that Netflix and other streamers traditionally compute recommendations, per Variety, whose suggestions are determined by the on-platform behavior of similar users.
Vody’s goal is to sell its tech to top streaming services, and has completed trials with Comcast and WarnerMedia, Variety reports. Currently, the company counts 15 employees and has tapped as advisers former Fox Television Entertainment Group chairman Sandy Grushow and former News Corp digital media group chairman and CEO Jon Miller.
Horbaczewski was previously the founder and CEO of StyleHaul, while Houghton was the beauty, fashion, and lifestyle-focused MCN’s CTO. Luxembourg-based media conglomerate RTL acquired a majority stake in the business in 2014 for a reported $107 million, and became its full owner in June 2017. Horbaczewski left the company in June 2018 — prior to its shutdown in May 2019 — to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors.