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Stitcher’s podcasts arrive on Pandora with acquisition’s completion

SiriusXM today completed its previously announced $325 million acquisition of podcast platform Stitcher from E.W. Scripps, and has now launched Stitcher’s podcasts on Pandora across all tiers of the streaming service. The deal brings top Stitcher titles to Pandora, including “Freakonomics Radio,” “My Favorite Murder,” “SuperSoul Conversations from the Oprah Winfrey Network,” “Office Ladies,” “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” “Literally! with Rob Lowe,” “LeVar Burton Reads” and “WTF with Marc Maron,” among others.

On Pandora, the podcasts will be indexed using the company’s proprietary Podcast Genome Project technology. This system leverages automated technology — like natural language processing, collaborative filtering and other machine learning approaches — then combines that with human curation to make personalized recommendations to podcast listeners on Pandora’s app.

The podcasts will also continue to be available in the Stitcher app in North America, the company says.

The Stitcher acquisition brought with it several key assets, including its own mobile listening app, which includes a premium tier of exclusives, and the Midroll Media network for podcast advertising. Stitcher also creates its own original programs and runs multiple content networks, via Earwolf.

That means SirusXM gained thousands of top podcasts with the deal’s closure. The company also now claims it has the “largest addressable audience in North America” across all categories of digital audio, including music, sports, talk and podcasts thanks to the combination of satellite radio service SiriusXM, streaming app Pandora and now Stitcher.

The company believes the deal will help it attract more creators to its platform, thanks to the enhanced production, marketing and distribution capabilities it offers, following the deal’s close. Advertisers, meanwhile, will be able to more precisely target podcasts for better ad efficiency, and will gain access to improved measurements, says SiriusXM.

In terms of Stitcher’s execs, CEO Erik Diehn will now report to Scott Greenstein, president and chief content officer of SiriusXM, who also oversees content at Pandora. Stitcher’s chief revenue officer, Sarah van Mosel, will report directly to John Trimble, chief advertising revenue officer of SiriusXM.

“We are deepening our position in podcasting, the fastest-growing sector in digital audio, and with completion of this transaction, our vision is taking shape,” said SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer, in a statement about the deal’s completion. “With Stitcher and its varied assets, we are now a one-stop shop able to meet the needs of podcast creators, publishers and advertisers, while also providing listeners with access to great shows, series and programming.”

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted many consumer trends and accelerated others, podcasting still remains one of the fast-growing digital audio industries. Podcast downloads returned to pre-COVID levels this summer, and Spotify reported that podcast consumption more than doubled in Q2, and nearly a quarter (21%) of its active users now listen to podcasts.

Stitcher was not SiriusXM’s first acquisition focused on podcasts or ad technologies. It also bought podcast management platform Simplecast this June, and before that, it acquired AdsWizz for $66.3 million to power Pandora’s advertising efforts.

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TV advertising didn’t die, it just moved online

The tradition of sitting through a barrage of ads in exchange for being entertained began with radio, flourished with the arrival of television and followed the mass migration online.
As the massive $35 billion in advertising revenue captured by YouTube and Instagram in the last quarter indicated, online advertising around social …

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Marcy Venture Partners, co-founded by Jay-Z, Raises $85M Fund

Marcy Venture Partners, the VC firm co-founded by Jay-Z, Jay Brown and Larry Marcus, raised $85 million for its first fund, according to a new filing.

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Marcy Venture Partners, which was founded last year and is based in San Francisco, focuses on consumer brands. Its name is a nod to Brooklyn’s Marcy Houses where Jay-Z grew up.

The firm has already made a number of deals. It’s invested in six companies so far, leading the rounds for three, according to Crunchbase. Its most recent investment was in electric mobility startup Wheels in October 2019, and the largest round it’s led so far was a $70 million round for singer Rihanna’s lingerie line Savage X Fenty. The firm’s first investment since it was founded in March 2019 was Hungry Marketplace’s $8 million Series A in April 2019.

It’s a quick pace of investing for the first seven months of a VC firm’s existence, but the co-founders are no strangers to the world of venture capital.

Jay Brown, who co-founded Roc Nation with Jay-Z and served as its CEO until late last year, has invested in companies like BeautyCon and Right Rice. Jay-Z, hip-hop’s first billionaire, is also known for backing high-profile companies like Uber and Impossible Foods. And Larry Marcus is a seasoned venture capitalist. He’s the director of Walden Venture Capital, which invested in companies like Pandora and SoundHound, and he backed companies like Netflix and BandPage as an angel investor, according to Walden VC’s website.

Illustration Credit: Li-Anne Dias

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The investment comes just seven months after OneTrust raised an also massive $200 million Series A at a $1.3 billion valuation.

Women and family health startup Maven raised $45 million in its Series C round, bringing its total funding to more than $87 million.

Source: Crunchbase News

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SoundCloud Gets $75M Investment From SiriusXM To Bring Its Funding To Over $500M

When it comes to success in the music industry, it all depends on the number of ears you can convince to listen.

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Case in point: Music creation platform SoundCloud has received a $75 million investment from audio company Sirius XM Holdings two years after it was notoriously just “80 days from shutting down.” 

SoundCloud is a platform for individual audio creators to upload content, attracting the attention of average listeners like you and me, lesser-known artists and celebrities such as The Weeknd, Kehlani, and Lil Yachty (even before they got famous). 

The company is a home for independent, unsigned artists, and like many social media platforms it creates the opportunity for one-time nobodies the possibility of going viral and making it big.

SoundCloud was founded in 2007 and claims it has over 200 million tracks from 25 million creators heard in 190 countries. The startup has over $500 million in funding to date, per its Crunchbase profile. 

Sirius XM’s investment in the company will be used to work on “product development and enhance the services that fuel its global community of creators and listeners,” according to a release

SoundCloud’s CEO Kerri Trainor also claims that, “three consecutive years of strong financial performance directly reflect the success of our creator-led growth strategy.” 

SoundCloud’s growth is notable. According to the company, it has a $200 million revenue run-rate based on the financials of fourth-quarter 2019. For those that don’t know, run-rate is a metric that helps forecast the year-end revenue by multiplying the performance of one quarter. That said, it is often employed by younger companies, and SoundCloud is over 13 years old at this point.

To unpack how this company went from almost closing to its recent news, a look as today’s investor is telling. According to the company, an ad and sales partnership with Sirius XM subsidiary Pandora  made the platforms the “largest digital audio advertising marketplace.”

“The agreement enables advertisers and brands to purchase SoundCloud’s U.S. ad inventory directly through Pandora, leveraging the company’s direct sales capabilities, targeting data, and audio programmatic platform,” per the release. The combined audience is more than 100 million unique active listeners, a spokesperson for the company told Crunchbase News this morning. For context–streaming platform Spotify has 271 million monthly active unique users according to its latest earnings report.

Beyond partnerships, there’s definitely other factors at play that propelled the company past its layoffs and shutdowns–including support and public rallying from Chance The Rapper, per a New York Times article.

But it was likely a huge cash investment of $169.5 million from The Raine Group and Temasek in 2017 that helped SoundCloud stay afloat. It also led Alexander Ljung, the founder and chairman of the company, to step down as CEO. This kicked off a companywide restructuring. 

Per Ljung, the 2017 investment promised a musical future.

“This financing means SoundCloud remains strong & independent. As I said, SoundCloud is here to stay,” he wrote at the time.

Today’s minority investment will allow two board seats for Sirius XM. 

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

The fund closures represent a 60 percent increase from the $1.25 billion raised almost exactly two years ago.

Supergiant venture capital deal volume in China hit lows not seen since February 2017.

Brandless, a DTC startup focused on food, beauty and personal care products, had raised a total of $292.5 million since its inception in 2016.

Data warehouse startup Snowflake raised $479 million in a new round of funding, bringing the company’s valuation to a whopping $12.4 billion.

Source: Crunchbase News