Podz turns podcasts into a personalized audio newsfeed – TechCrunch

Podz M13 is the latest startup trying to solve the problem of podcast search with support from investors such as Katie Couric and Paris Hilton.

“Even though podcasts have gained a lot of momentum – there are 100 million people in the US who listen to podcasts – We still have not seen the crossover behavior where audio becomes a part of everyday life, ”argued CEO Doug Imbruce. “We think that because the experience of discovering and consuming podcasts is ancient. It really feels like browsing the web in 1997. “

Imbruce’s name may be known to TechCrunch readers for a long time, as he was previously the Chief Executive Officer at Qwiki, which Startup Battlefield Won TechCrunch Disrupt in 2010 (Cloudflare was one of the runners up), then Acquired by yahoo A few years ago.

By Imbruce’s own admission, Quickie never lived up to his hopes for reducing online media consumption, but said his vision of “machine-made media” offered “tastes of the future” – a A future he hopes to help with Podz.

The problem that a startup has to solve is very straightforward. Since podcasts often contain 30 or 60 minutes or more of spoken word audio, they are difficult to browse, and when you discover new ones, this is usually via word-of-mouth recommendations or clunky search tools is.

whereas Devices like headliners Making it easy for podcasters to promote their content on social media with short clips, Podz automates that creation process and makes those clips the focal point of the listening experience.

Podz demo

Image Credit: Podz

In the Podz mobile app, users browse what the startup calls a “first audio newsfeed” consisting of 60-second podcast clips. These clips are designed to highlight the best moments from each podcast, making it easier to sample a wider array than the ones you are currently subscribing to. Each clip should stand on its own, but if you want to dive deeper, you can save the entire episode for later listening.

These clips are created automatically, and Imbruce said the “beating of the Podz platform” is a machine learning model that “identifies the most engaging parts of a podcast.” The model was trained on over 100,000 hours of audio in consultation with journalists and audio editors.

For example, here are selected clips from the three most recent episodes Original Content Podcast – our review of “inner heart,”, “The White Tiger” And “Bridgetton.” Each clip feels self-contained, and although I was a little disappointed to find that they all focused on me (rather than my more outspoken co-host), a Podz spokeswoman explained that because the application was “the highest Density speakers “. “

The Podz Newsfeed is personal to your interests (and, if you choose, it can also draw on the podcasts you follow in the Apple Podcasts and the accounts you follow on Twitter). Imbruce said that it should become smarter over time because it looks at the behavior of the listener.

He said the team is looking forward to introducing more creative and monetization tools for podcasters over time: “We are really hopeful that we can increase the amount of audio being created by 10x and increase the monetization of audio by 100 times Can. “

In addition to Imbruce, the Podz founding team includes CTO Sei Ozumu, Head of Design Rasmus Zwickson and iOS Lead Greg Page. The startup has raised $ 2.5 million from pre-seed funding M13, Canaan Partners, Charge Ventures, Hambition, as well as Coric, Hilton ( Launching her own podcast) And Mara Schiavokampo (Trend reporter) is.

“We are living in a golden age of audio, but only 1% of podcasts reach an audience of 5,000+,” M13 general partner Latif Peracha said in a statement. “Podz Plans to develop an audience for existing audio, but the real focus will be on developing new audio by leveraging their producer tools. Already, average podcast listeners subscribe to seven podcasts, but about 30 follow Podz. Early signs make us optimistic that the team can build a transformational product in the category. “