Atmosphere Replaces Muzak With Viral Videos, Nears $1 Billion Valuation

Image Credit: iStock, Drazen Zigic

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

Atmosphere isn’t exactly as artful as Buster Keaton. The company’s version of silent cinema is putting “sound optional” viral videos on screens in places normally reserved for cheesy muzak — doctors’ offices, veterinary clinics, muffler shops, laundromats, and restaurants.

But that seemingly frivolous business is now closing in on $1 billion unicorn status, the company announced Tuesday, because who says silent movies are dead?

Quiet and Clear

The problem with putting content on screens in public or waiting areas is pretty simple: it costs money. At the very least, you have to pony up for a cable subscription and then most content requires captions to be understandable. Atmosphere is a company that is monetizing that problem.

The company lets customers use an Apple TV box and an internet connection to screen programming similar to what gets passed around as viral online these days — waiting room patients or people getting an oil change can see cute puppies, outlandish stunts, or even Bob Ross painting. Ads run in between videos, which bring in revenue. After a one-time $99 activation fee, the content is free for those who want to display the company’s content. As weird as it sounds, clients are lining up, which has investors taking notice:

  • Atmosphere has more than doubled its customer base from 9,000 to 19,000 in the last 12 months and gets 215,000 impressions per advertisement, which is comparable to some television ads.
  • On Tuesday, Sageview Capital led an $80 million Series C funding round in Atmosphere which, according to CEO Leo Resig values the company as “not quite a unicorn, but we are close” (exact figures weren’t disclosed).

Soothing Competition: Atmosphere has competition from Mood Media, formerly known as Muzak. Famous for turning pop tunes into instrumental earworms for elevators, the company has also branched into the video market.

The Actual Bottom Line: Resig admits Atmosphere still has one not-so-silent obstacle: the company has never turned a profit.