Podcasts are all the rage, but discovering podcasts is a challenge. Today, Spotify announced the acquisition of Podz, a startup trying to solve the podcast discovery problem.

“At Spotify, we invest to create and evolve the world’s best (and most personalized) podcast discovery experience,” the the company said. “We believe 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 the growth of the category around the world.”

Since podcasts are typically longer than 30 minutes, it’s difficult for listeners to browse new shows – listening to an episode of a podcast isn’t as easy as trying out a song from a new artist. So Podz developed what he called “the premier audio news feed,” showing users 60-second clips from various shows. Podcasters often use apps like Headlining to create clips to promote on their social media accounts, and Podz follows the same idea. But instead of podcasters manually choosing how to promote their show, Podz chooses a clip using its machine learning model, which has been trained on over 100,000 hours of audio in consultation with reporters and audio editors.

Podz demo

Image credits: Podz

Prior to its acquisition by Spotify, Podz raised $ 2.5 million in pre-seed funding from M13, Canaan Partners, Charge Ventures and Humbition. Celebrities like Katie Couric and Paris Hilton have also invested.

“Already, the average podcast listener subscribes to seven podcasts but follows nearly 30 on Podz”, M13 General Partner Latif Peracha said TechCrunch by e-mail in February. “The first signals make us optimistic about the team’s ability to create a transformative product in the category.”

This acquisition marks another sign of Spotify’s ambition to capture the podcasting and audio entertainment market in general. Just yesterday, Spotify debuted Green room, his rival of the Live Audio Clubhouse. And when it comes to earning income from podcast subscriptions, Spotify and Apple are neck and neck. In April, Apple announced its expansion into podcast subscriptions, and the following week Spotify began rolling out its subscription platform after teasing him in February. Apple said it would take 30% of podcast revenue in the first year, which will drop to 15% in the second. On the other hand, Spotify’s program won’t take any creator discounts until 2023, when it will take 5%.

While podcast makers can quickly determine that it might be more beneficial to give up 5% of their subscription revenue than 30%, listeners will likely flock to the app with the best user experience – and if the Spotify’s investment in discovery is paying off, it could pose problems for Apple’s long-standing dominance in podcasting.


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