A Quick Look at Venture Capital, Funding, and Acquisitions in Podcast-land
Podcasting has been around for over a decade. But in the last few years, there has been a big uptick in podcast popularity. And one thing that follows a trend, money. Let's take a look at some of the big money spent on podcasts and podcast apps.
Sources: Crunchbase, Podnews, or HotPod.
Podcast Companies Raising Money
Here's a list of podcast companies I have found which have raised some kind of funding.
- TuneIn raised $146M in funding
- Stitcher raised $16M in funding, then acquired by Midroll
- Soundcloud raised $467M and now acquired 2 companies themselves
- Swell raised $7.2M in funding and then got acquired by Apple for $30M
- Knomad raised $50k in funding
- Castro (Supertop) got funded by Tiny
- Wondery raised $5M in funding, and recently another $10M.
- Gimlet raised $28M and acquired by Spotify
- 60dB got seed funding then acquired by Google
- Anchor received $14M in funding then got acquired by Spotify
- Radio Public has raised $1.2M in funding
- Audioboom raised €4M in funding
- Castbox has raised $29M in funding
- Art19 raised $7.5M in funding
- Acast raised $70M in funding
- Podcon 1 raised $240k, Podcon 2 raised $300k, Podcon 3 cancelled due to it being too expensive
- Radiotopia raised $1M in funding
- Swoot raised $3M in funding
- HowStuffWorks raised $90M and was acquired by iHeartRadio
- Luminary raised $100M
- Chartable raised $1.5M
- Spotify has raised millions historically
- Podimo has raised $6M
- Tiny Capital helped fund podcaster Sam Harris' mobile app Waking Up.
Closed for Business
Podcast companies that seem to have raised money but then went out of business.
- Opinion Podcasting 11/2015-10/2017 (raised seed funding)
- Podango 9/2006 – 12/2008 (raised seed funding)
- Podshow/Mevio 8/2005 – 4/2014 (raised $20M+, seems defunct/broken)
- Blip.tv raised $10M 2005 - 2015
Here's a list of podcast company acquisitions I'm aware of (in no particular order).
- Midroll acquired Stitcher
- E. W. Scripps acquired Midroll
- E. W. Scripps acquired Triton digital for $150M
- Spotify acquired AnchorFM for $140M
- Gimlet acquired many podcasts such as Science Vs, and The Pitch
- Spotify acquired Gimlet Media for $200M
- Spotify acquired Parcast
- FAB Universal Corp (Wizzard Software) acquired Libsyn, SwitchPod, and Blast Podcast
- Panoply (now Megaphone) acquired Audiometric.io
- Robinhood (investing app) acquired Market Snacks (a podcast)
- Apple acquired Swell for $30M (and has since shut down the app)
- Google acquired 60dB (and shut down the app a month later)
- WNYC, NPR, WBEZ, and This American Life acquired Pocket Casts
- iHeartRadio acquired HowStuffWorks for $55M
- UBC Media Group acquired Audioboom
- Acast acquired Pippa
- Chernin Group (media company who raised $38M) acquired Barstool Sports (podcast network) and the Meat Eater podcast
- AT&T acquired Otter Media for 1Bn who owns Rooster Teeth among other media companies
- Rogers Media acquires Pacific Content
- SeriusXM acquired Pandora for $3.5Bn
- Dewoh (podcast network) acquired Blank Studios (podcast network)
It's also worth noting that Luminary picked up a lot of podcasts to be exclusive on that app. This isn't the same as acquiring but likely a significant amount of money was exchanged.
Podcasts Raising Funds
Podcasts themselves sometimes are getting investors on board. What is the defining line between a "podcast" and a "media company"? I don't know. So I'll just include both here.
- Gimlet raised $28M
- Wondery raised $5M
- WaitWhat (creators of Masters of Scale and Should This Exist?) raised $4M
- RoosterTeeth (making videos and podcasts) raised $3.8M
- The CyberWire podcast raised $1.8M
- According to Podfund: Disgraceland, Malcolm Gladwell's Pushkin Industries, and the Newsworthy podcast have all received seed funding from them.
Some notable Kickstarters:
- 99% Invisible raised $170k for season 3 and $375k for season 4
- PAX DLC podcast raised $230k
- Idle Thumbs podcast raised $130k
- The Wayward Guide to the Untrained Eye Podcast raised $122k
- The Good Fight Podcast raised $115k
- The Secret Cabal Gaming podcast raised $96k in 2017, $86k in 2018, and $81k in 2019
- Big Interview with Graham Hunter podcast raised £41k
- The Tennis Podcast raised £53k
- The Bingle Bus raised $60k
- The Retronauts podcast raised $56k
- The Drabblecast Reborn - Weird fiction podcast raised $54k
- The Longest Shortest Time raised $34k
You may also find the list of top podcast Patreon earners interesting. A different type of funding.
The biggest problem I see is how to valuate a podcast. If you consider an investor giving $10k for 10% of the podcast, that means the podcast has a worth of $100k. Which only makes sense to me if the show has a lot of listeners already (like 40k+ downloads per episode), or is bringing in close to $100k a year in revenue. I'm very curious how much Gimlet paid for Science Vs or The Pitch, how much Luminary paid to get exclusive shows, or how much some podcasts were acquired for. Then if we knew how many listeners that show has we could then start understanding how much a podcast is worth.
If you're considering raising money for your podcast make sure to have a lawyer help you look over the terms. You don't want to lose any intellectual property or be on the hook for any outrageous terms.
What we can clearly see above is that a lot of money is moving around in podcast-land right now, and more money is coming. Not too long ago I saw a Tweet that Tiny Capital wants to invest in more podcasts, and now PodFund is willing to invest $25k-$50k to help promising podcasters boost their show. This is a super exciting time for the people of podcast-land and I can't wait to see what happens next.
Sources: Crunchbase, Podnews, and HotPod.
There's a wonderful article by the Inside Podcasting newsletter which covers many major acquisitions of 2020. https://inside.com/campaigns/inside-podcasting-2020-12-11-25727