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Home / Business / Spotify is in "advanced talks" to buy Gimlet, at a price the podcast industry never sees before »Nieman Journalism Lab

Spotify is in "advanced talks" to buy Gimlet, at a price the podcast industry never sees before »Nieman Journalism Lab



Recode's Peter Kafka and The Wall Street Journal's Ben Mullin and Anne Steele are both fired out of the story Friday evening that Spotify, the Swedish music streaming company, is apparently in "advanced talks" to acquire Gimlet Media.

Recode's Peter Kafka had the story out first (barely), and he has the potential price on the deal: "A person familiar with The proposed deal says Spotify wants to pay more than $ 200 million in cash for the company. "

But

If you're looking for a yardstick, we can probably talking about Scripps' 2015 acquisition of Midroll Media (since rebranded as stitcher) for $ 50 million, plus another $ 10 million based on milestone achievements. But more appropriately, we'd have to talk about iHeartMedia acquiring Stuff Media for $ 55 million, which is better because that's a platform-ish company acquiring a straight-up content company, which is what we're seeing with this Spotify gimlet situation

Which is to say: If this deal closes, Spotify's ingestion of Gimlet would be the largest acquisition in the podcast industry to date. By quite a mile.

(Oh, and who's keeping track: The venture-backed Gimlet Media has raised $ 28.5 million in funding to date, including WPP, Betaworks, Emerson Collective, and Panoply parent Graham Holdings: As Kafka points out, on a $ 70 million valuation in 201

7. You know what? Just check out the Crunchbase listing.)

So worth noting: This is Spotify's first acquisition of a content company.

Gimlet Media is proud to announce that it has launched the Brooklyn-based podcast company in 2014 by former American Life star and Planet Money co-founder Alex Blumberg and former WNYC producer / BCG consultant Matt Lieber. It's (a) Responsible for shows like StartUp, Reply All, and Homecoming, and (b) has become the somewhat polarizing venture-backed poster child for the current wave of podcast industrialization.

Spotify, in case you need reminding, has been getting up in podcasting's business quite a bit for a while now. In fits and starts, it has attempted to carve out a proper podcast within its platform over the past few years. It initially functioned as a modest closed distributor before evolving into its current iteration: an exclusives-driven strategy (largely via talent deals with folks like Amy Schumer, Joe Budden, and Jemele Hill, though shout-out to dissect) built on top of a more traditional "open-ish" podcast distribution system. Last month, the company signaled stronger intentions with podcasting, disclosing through a minor push that it has been experimenting with selling ads on its own podcasts since mid-2018 and is currently exploring the possibility of building out its own ad insertion tech. I wrote about Spotify's podcast adventures and prospect during that push, and raised a lot of questions on how a Spotify podcast strategy would work.

Here's one point I raised: "Given Spotify's content-led strategy, what are the odds it's going to straight-up acquire one or more podcast content companies in the near future? (If I were a betting man, I'd probably take that bet.) "Gimme my money."

So I want to flag another point I raised that that column, which I think will probably become an important piece in the coming days:

Spotify's two-pronged podcast supply approach – directly curating unique show assets and opening up podcast submissions – should be recognized as a familiar one for the company. Spotify has been testing on the music side: "First, quietly striking deals directly with independent artists. according to several people involved, "via the New York Times", and then "rolling out a new feature" to "free songs and albums directly – without going through a single label company, distribution group or Spotify employee – and automatically receive royalty payments in their bank accounts, "the Rolling Stone described it. The Latter Feature, Spotify for Artists program, is in an invite-only beta at the moment.

Okay, so. Tuesday's hot pod, but in the meantime, a few quick thoughts:

  • This is a very sweet talk about podcasting, the podcast industry, its openness, is this the end of an era, so on and so forth.
  • Here's my good:
  • Here's my good:
  • Here's my good:
  • Here's my good: I can not help but feel that there is some inevitability to Gimlet being acquired. Being a venture-backed company, it has entered into its DNA, not independence. Gimlet specializes in resource-intensive, often limited-run, and does not feel like there are many pathways for the business to develop a business model that is not super risky. Now it's going to be in business with its own (mature-ish) business model, it can be done doing what it's good at doing without the attendant.
  • On a separate note, I go back and forth in the spotlight Spotify was the inevitable buyer. Gimlet could have ended up in. In this moment in time, Gimlet could have ended up in.
  • One thing I'm going to think about: How does Gimlet's staff – which now numbers well north of a hundred – integrate into Spotify? Who stays, who leaves? How to Play in the Company?
  • Will Gimlet's programming be exclusive to Spotify? (Probably, probably.)
  • Please do not hurt Reply All.
  • I hope they make a startup season about this. Come on now.

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