Spotify Buys Podz, a Podcast Discovery Tech Startup Whose Backers Included Katie Couric and Paris Hilton
Jun 18, 2021
Spotify has snapped up another player in the podcast space, announcing the acquisition of Podz , a startup that developed an auto-generated “audio newsfeed” for podcasts. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. New York-based Podz raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by venture-capital firm M13 along with Canaan Partners, Charge Ventures and Humbition, as well as investments from Katie Couric, Paris Hilton, and journalist Mara Schiavocampo . As of February, Podz had 10 full-time employees. “We believe that Podz’s technology will complement and accelerate Spotify’s focused efforts to drive discovery, deliver listeners the right content at the right time, and accelerate growth of the category worldwide,” Spotify said in a blog post announcing the acquisition. Podz’s app uses machine-learning algorithms to identify the best 60-second highlights from podcast episodes, then assembles those into a personalized feed for users based on their expressed interests and listening history. Spotify said it plans to integrate Podz’s technology into the Spotify experience before the end of the year. The capabilities of the Podz platform, “combined with Spotify’s 2.6 million podcasts on the platform, learnings from our work in music discovery, and current investments in podcast recommendation, will take podcast discovery to the next level — making it easier for listeners to find the content they want to listen to, and for creators to be discovered and build a fanbase,” according to Spotify. The deal for Podz continues Spotify’s bid to become the leading podcast platform. Over the past two years, the audio streamer has acquired podcast companies Gimlet, Anchor, Parcast and Megaphone, as well as Bill Simmons’ The Ringer. This year Spotify also acquired Betty Labs, maker of a live-audio chat app (a la Clubhouse) that Spotify relaunched as Greenroom this week . In parallel, Spotify has been aggressively locking down exclusive podcast programming — this week announcing a deal for Alex Cooper’s risqué sex and relationship show “Call Her Daddy,” following deals for “The Joe Rogan Experience” and Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert.” The company also has secured exclusive development deals with the likes of the Obamas, Ava DuVernay, and Warner Bros./DC Comics. Podz was founded by tech entrepreneur and investor Bruce Imbruce in January 2020, aimed at helping podcasters grow their audiences (and to help podcast listeners find new shows). Previously, he was co-founder of Qwiki, which developed an app that automatically generated movies based on a user’s photos and videos. Yahoo acquired Qwiki in 2013 for a reported $50 million.