John Furrier

Gee, this we weren’t expecting…venture capital flowing to podcast creation.

John Furrier is a bit of a hyperactive guy you will see at technology conferences around Silicon Valley. He bounds around with a microphone, taking audio recordings of people, with seeming limitless reserves of energy.

He launched his own company, called Podtech last year, around the time we first bumped into him. He posts his audio recordings to his Web site, where you can subscribe to them as podcasts.

Podtech’s site has seen about a million of podcasts downloaded, making Furrier realize he was on to something. People around the world wanted to listen to the recordings, and so he figured he should pull out the stops.

So today he announces he has received $5.5 million in venture backing from venture capital firms USVP and Venrock, both big-name Sand Hill Road firms.

This comes at a time when conventional wisdom says creating content like podcasts doesn’t make much money.

You may have heard of Podshow and Odeo, two other services, which are creating advertising networks around podcasts.

But Podtech’s Furrier is simply a guy doing podcasts. Granted, he says he’s now got three other people working with him generating news podcasts, and ten employees overall. “We’re a media company dedicated to podcasting,” he told us. “We’re not trying to build a network, or aggregate. We’re just trying to create content.”

He concedes: “It was passe. VCs said they don’t do content deals.”

But there is a price for taking capital; the ramp-up begins:

1) He will be hiring a full podcasting news team, a sort of National Public Radio for podcasting.

2) He’ll build out what he calls Infotalk. This is where other people produce podcasts in partnership with Podtech, and there will be some sort of split of the revenue generated from advertising running alongside or within the podcasts.

3) He’ll build out a sponsorship network. These will be businesses like Intel (you will see Intel’s feature channel on Podtech’s homepage) which will pay Podtech to produce and host podcasts.

We asked Eric Copeland, venture capitalist at Venrock, how one makes money from content creation.

He said: “The answer is not so easy. If you’re a producer, you’ll have a consulting business, and you’ll make money, but you won’t have a highly scalable opportunity. So the thing for John to do is to kick-start production, to prove the model and get others to produce.” The plan, he said, is for Furrier to generate revenue from advertising, from hosting, from distribution of podcasts and from “syndication” — with “corporate marketing” being a big part of that.

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