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L.A.-based production firm Mitú raises $10 million in funding

L.A.-based production firm Mitú raises $10 million in funding
Guacardo is one of Mitú's iconic characters from its videos on platforms including YouTube. (Mitú)

Last summer, downtown Los Angeles-based Mitú, known for its ambitious goal to expand online video content for Latino youth, was in retreat.

The digital media company laid off roughly 30% of its workforce. Its chief executive, television veteran Herb Scannell, resigned from his role. Platforms for which Mitú had developed shows, including Verizon’s Go90, shuttered.

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But on Wednesday, Mitú announced it had raised $10 million in funding and named co-founder Roy Burstin as its new CEO. Burstin left Mitú in 2017 and was an entrepreneur in residence at the Santa Monica-based venture capital firm Upfront Ventures.

Mitú’s business took a hit when Go90 and Comcast Watchable struggled. Mitú, which supplied content for both platforms, was forced to focus on “profitability over growth” and make some shifts in its business, but it’s still very much in the game, Burstin said. “Our vision stays the same and our strategy is still the same,” he said.

Mitú plans to continue creating content for ad-supported social media platforms like Facebook and grow its commerce business, including selling subscription-based boxes filled with exclusive merchandise, Burstin said.

In the past, Mitú had worked on projects for subscription streaming video platforms. For example, the company helped produce the comedy “They Can’t Deport Us All” with Chingo Bling for Netflix.

“We are putting a pause on those efforts and really want to focus on the things that we are getting a lot of traction on and we believe we can successfully scale,” Burstin said.

Since its launch in 2012, Mitú has focused on making content for young Latino audiences. About 60% of U.S. Latinos were born or grew up in the internet age, a higher percentage than non-Latinos, according to Nielsen Co. That puts the younger, smartphone savvy generation in a position to influence the buying decisions of their elders, Nielsen said.

“This is an audience that is underserved,” said Eugene Lee, CEO of ChannelMeter, a San Francisco social video analytics company. “You’re going to see a growing population on digital and these are the people I’m sure advertisers are going to see opportunity [in] as well.”

Some of Mitú’s wide range of videos include “Mom’s Movie Review,” which features Rosa Mamá and her son evaluating different popular films, and “The Kat Call,” a show that discusses issues regarding Latino identity and includes short clips featuring Guacardo, an animated avocado that inserts himself into different music or film scenes.

Both “Mom's Movie Review” and “The Kat Call” are on Facebook’s video platform, Facebook Watch, which shares ad revenue with its partners.

Mitú has about 65 full-time employees and has raised roughly $50 million to date in funding, executives said.

The latest $10-million funding round was led by Leap Global Partners and included investors such as Santa Monica-based Upfront Ventures, advertising and marketing agency WPP and Verizon Ventures.

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