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A recent spate of investments in the podcast space continues today with news that Anchor has raised $10 million in a series A round of funding led by Google’s venture capital arm, GV.
Additional investors include Accel; Eniac Ventures; Betaworks; the Chernin Group; Homebrew; Atlantic Records’ CEO Craig Kallman; and author, entrepreneur, and podcaster Nir Eyal.
Founded out of New York in 2015, Anchor makes it easy for anyone to record audio while on the move using mobile apps and transform that audio into a podcast that can be shared across social media. It also enables podcasters to publish their shows to Google Play Music, Apple Podcasts, and elsewhere.
Anchor had previously raised around $4.5 million in funding, and with its latest cash injection the company plans to double down on efforts to “democratize the creation and consumption of audio.” This includes hiring more people and rolling out new features.
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“Looking ahead, we’re going to be using this round to grow the team,” Anchor cofounder and CEO Mike Mignano told VentureBeat. “We believe that New York City offers an unparalleled pool for talent and creation. And we’ve already started by bringing on a new member to our executive team.”
That new member is Dave Altarescu, an early Spotify employee who ran the music streaming service’s marketing operations in the U.S. and emerging markets before joining Verizon’s digital entertainment arm. He will serve as Anchor’s new VP of marketing.
“We’ve released a host of audio-first features over the past few months, and we’ll also be continuing to put a heavy focus on product and design with this round, as well as developing content to be the best place for those interested in audio to both create and discover,” added Mignano.
As a result of their investments, GV’s M.G. Siegler and Accel’s Brian O’Malley will be joining Anchor’s board of directors.
Anchor’s news comes amid a steady stream of VC cash for audio-focused startups. Just last week, Swedish startup Acast raised $19.5 million to grow its podcasting platform in the U.S. and new markets. This came shortly after New York-based podcasting company Gimlet Media nabbed $20 million over the course of a month — interestingly, Betaworks was also a contributor to that series B round.
In August, digital media company HowStuffWorks raised $15 million to expand as an independent podcast network, while podcast hosting technology platform Art19 received $7.5 million.
Throw into the mix the myriad other audio broadcasting platforms and apps out there — from SoundCloud to Audioboom, ZCast, and Spreaker — and it’s clear that something is going down in podcast town.
So what is happening?
Back in March, Edison Research and Triton Digital produced the 2017 Infinite Dial study that delved into digital media consumption trends, with a specific focus on audio and podcasting. As reported by Nieman Lab at the time, the report found that 67 million Americans, or 24 percent of the population, now listen to podcasts each month, which represents a rise of 3 percentage points on the previous year’s figure of 57 million.
“Thanks to smartphones, digital audio is exploding, with 61 percent of Americans listening to digital radio monthly and 24 percent of Americans listening to podcasts monthly,” noted Mignano, in an interview with VentureBeat. “And with some of the biggest companies in the world investing in smart speakers, microphones, and content, audio and voice will only become more popular in the coming years.”
Tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and Apple have gone all-in on their video efforts of late, but audio holds a number of trump cards. For starters, you can do other things while listening to music or radio — you can drive to work, paint your house, cook your kids’ dinner. In other words, podcasts are the perfect entertainment for multitaskers.
“Audio is great because it saves you time,” added Mignano. “You can consume it no matter what you’re doing.”
In terms of making money, well, Anchor is noncommittal for the time being. And with another $10 million in the bank, it has a little more breathing space to build the platform and worry about making money later. But it will have to make money at some point.
“Right now, we’re focused on continuing to build a great product that democratizing audio creation,” explained Mignano. “Ultimately, we consider monetization to be a big part of that mission, and it’s a major priority for us to eventually help creators monetize on their work. As you can imagine, there are many models to explore, such as implementing a subscription model, considering ad-support, or allowing fans to tip creators.”
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