Once an obscure means to share audio stories, podcasts are now as commonplace as newspapers, TV shows and magazines.
With more than 850,000 active podcasts, roughly two out of five Americans have listened to a recorded audio episode within the last month, according to the PEW Research Center.
As podcasting has grown in popularity, so too have their value. The most high-profile example is podcast superstar Joe Rogan, who in 2020 sold the exclusive rights to his show to Spotify for more than $200 million.
Well before Rogan’s sale, however, businesses were sprouting up to serve the podcast ecosystem and its creators. Many podcasts are produced by an individual or small team, so podcast businesses face a variety of business challenges, including production, distribution, marketing and ad sales.
Companies acquired in the podcast space
The companies we’re covering today all cultivated a business focused on addressing podcasters’ needs. One’s a newsletter, another is a platform for monetizing podcasts, and yet another is a software for podcast production.
Here are three companies that have been acquired in the podcast space.
1. Hot Pod acquired by Vox Media
Launched as a side hustle, the Hot Pod newsletter quickly became a full-time job for journalist Nick Quah.
Inspired by “Serial” and the podcast explosion it sparked, Quah created a newsletter analyzing the growing trend of podcasting in 2014.
“As a podcast consumer, I looked at the coverage and didn’t see that it accurately described what I was seeing in the space, ” Quah told the Digiday Podcast. “So I started this project as a way to cover it and learn how to report.”
Within one year of running the newsletter, Hot Pod had about 5,000 subscribers and a 60% open rate, which was enough traction for Quah to pursue Hot Pod full time, he told Digiday host Brian Morrissey. He continually published content for about the next six years, and in 2021 Hot Pod was acquired by Vox Media for an undisclosed sum.
Our full story on Hod Pod’s acquisition has more details.
2. Glow acquired by Libsyn
When the podcasting industry was still in its infancy, media entrepreneur Amira Valliani was an early adopter who saw its potential.
After experimenting with her own podcast and learning first-hand how difficult it was to put a podcast behind a subscription paywall, Vallani was inspired to help talented creatives monetize and grow their audiences.She created Glow as a podcast monetization platform to support podcasters at a time when it was unsure whether or how producers might develop business models around podcasting.
In the spring of 2021, she sold her startup to podcast hosting platform Libsyn, with the goal of expanding Glow’s reach, GeekWire reported. Libsyn bought Glow for $1.2 million, including $800,000 upfront and up to $400,000 over time, according to an SEC filing.
For more details, read our full story on the sale of Glow.
3. Auxbus acquired by Libsyn
Dan Radin had never before coded software when he started Auxbus, a subscription-based podcast creation business. Within three years and an angel round of funding, he sold the company for “nearly 7 figures.”
In 2018, after 15 years developing audio technology products, Radin left the corporate world to build a SaaS business that solved his own problem. He explained the motivation behind Auxbus in an interview on the Watch Pitch podcast (episode 46).
Using his expertise and savings, Radin developed a web-based turnkey podcast tool enabling anyone to produce their own podcast quickly and easily. Auxbus automates every aspect of podcast production, from content planning to editing, distribution and analytics. Radin and his small team raised $412,000 in angel investment to build the product.
For the full story, read our piece on Auxbus’ acquisition.
Know of other podcast companies that have been acquired? Please send us a tip.