Mobile

Music veteran launches AGOGO to break audio content out of its cages

AGOGO launched today to make it easier, quite simply, to listen to stuff you like.

The mobile application pulls together audio content from a range of sources, including music apps Spotify and Rdio, radio stations, news broadcasts, and audio versions of articles and television programming. You can create lists of personal favorites and AGOGO will learn from your preferences. The app also presents topical channels with carefully curated content in categories like art, food, world news, and sports.

This is founder J.D. Heilprin’s fourth startup in the entertainment world. He started his career working in the mailroom at the elite Creative Artists Agency and went on to found RioPort, the first Internet music service to legally offer digital songs from music labels (before iTunes). He also founded entrainment production company Network LIVE and Clicker.com, which was acquired by CBS in 2011. In an interview at VentureBeat’s offices, he said all his companies have the same underlying goal.

“My ideas are simple,” he said. “How can you get to amazing programming, to the stuff you really love, easily? Rio was about getting it off the desktop. AGOGO is about breaking all this content out its silos and making it more accessible. AGOGO rose from the idea that the old platforms are out of date.”

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 10.55.24 AMAGOGO lets you save your favorite things to listen to, while also enabling discovery of new content. The app has a discovery engine that makes connections between content from multiple sources. For example, if you are listening to a podcast that mentions David Bowie, AGOGO will present David Bowie songs. Or if you find yourself fascinated by a This American Life episode on inner-city schools, AGOGO helps lead you to other news programming on similar topics. Heilprin said this allows you to “go deep” into areas that interest you.

“I think people are annoyed with tech companies that try to figure them out,” he said. “There is a delicate balance between trying to personalize it and letting you personalize it. We have created a sophisticated way to index and tune that content so you can listen to things that are relevant to you.”

The team designed AGOGO with commuters in mind. Americans spend millions of hours in their cars and want to be entertained. Car manufacturers, telecom companies, and startups alike are all working on creating connected car, infotainment experiences where drivers have access to media content. Heilprin said that a significant number of people still use their mobile devices in cars, even though it is dangerous, and AGOGO aims to make navigating through audio content while driver simpler, and thus safer. It will also provide traffic and weather information .

AGOGO has offices in San Francisco and New York. It is available on iOS and there is also a Web application. The company raised a $1.5 million seed round with some of the same investors from Clicker, as well as a “pre-A institutional round” from Waterbridge Capital.

 

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