Podcasting continues to see a strong trajectory in the world of streamed audio content, and today comes the latest development on that front. SiriusXM, owner of Pandora and backer of SoundCloud, said that it is acquiring Simplecast, a podcast management platform used by creators to publish and distribute podcasts, and subsequently analyse how they are consumed. SiriusXM plans to integrate Simplecast with AdsWizz, a digital audio advertising company that it acquired in 2018 for $66.3 million in cash plus shares to power ads on Pandora .
The company is not disclosing any of the financial terms for the Simplecast acquisition but we have asked and will update if we learn more. As a startup, New York-based Simplecast, which will continue to be led by its founder and CEO Brad Smith, had raised a modest $7.87 million in funding from investors since launching in 2013, per PitchBook data.
The deal is interesting because it is bringing one of the more popular independent platforms and set of tools used by streamers under the wing of a platform. Simplecast's many podcasts and users today include Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Netflix, Maximum Fun, Cloud10, QCODE, Anna Faris is Unqualified, Blue Wire, Revision Path and (disclaimer) TechCrunch, who use it to distribute content over multiple, and sometimes competing, networks, including Apple, Spotify, Google and Overcast. (Business plans currently range in price and start at $15/month and go up to $85/month or more depending on podcast size, number of users and features that you need.)
Pandora (with help from SiriusXM, which has a large and popular stable of talk radio shows on its channels) has been building up its own spoken-word content, of course, so there is a direct opportunity to push more on-demand podcasts to that platform in particular, as well as offer more interesting terms for doing so, as well as bring in a much wider spectrum of podcasts to run AdsWizz's inventory, which currently is seen by more than 100 million people each month across the U.S. and Canada (SiriusXM's and Pandora's footprint in vehicles, online and more).
We have asked SiriusXM if the plan will be to keep all of Simplecast's services as-is after the deal closes.
What's clearer is that, with SiriusXM also making a key investment in SoundCloud last year, the company is -- like Spotify (which acquired a Simplecast competitor, Anchor, last year) -- building up its music-business tools to complement its position as a content provider: This is a key role to play in the brave new world of digital music, where monetisation remains a challenge for most, and the tools to distribute, analyse and (yes) monetise one's creative content continue to get more sophisticated, so much so that getting that part of the equation right can make or break an artist or wider creative or media endeavour.
“Our goal is to provide audio publishers with state-of-the-art platforms and give them everything they need to be successful,” said Alexis van de Wyer, CEO of AdsWizz, in a statement. “Empowering podcasters of any size to create, distribute, analyze, and monetize their work is the next natural step in pursuing our vision.”
“From the beginning, Simplecast’s mantra and mission was to remain laser-focused on podcast creators - building the best tools for publishing and insights,” said Brad Smith, the founder & CEO of Simplecast, in a statement of his own. “The opportunity and alignment with AdsWizz allows our product -- and our customers -- access to a powerful monetization platform. Two best-in-class platforms are now able to align with the shared mission of helping publishers succeed, while each team continues to focus on their respective areas of expertise.”