Investing in Podz with Co-founder and CEO Doug Imbruce

M13 is leading the seed round of Podz, which puts 60-second podcast clips into a personalized feed.


Update: Under the leadership of Co-founder and CEO Doug Imbruce, Podz was acquired by Spotify, where the product will power spoken word audio for 250 million users globally.

After 70 years of visual dominance, audio is making a comeback: consumers are integrating audio into their lives in a way we haven’t seen since the golden age of radio. Our investment thesis stems from the belief that new tools for audio creation and consumption are driving voice’s staying power. 

At the same time, many challenges remain for independent creators and listeners. Only 1% of podcasts reach an audience of more than 5,000. And the most common form of audio, the podcast, is cumbersome: 40 minutes is the average podcast length, 40% of listeners say podcasts are too long, and 51% of non-listeners say they don’t listen because they don’t have enough time. Discovery and production are barriers for creators: an increasingly common fate for podcasts is “pod fade,” a drop-off due to time-consuming production lift and difficulty in reaching an audience. 

Enter Podz. The company is revolutionizing the decades-old process of podcast discovery with the first-ever audio newsfeed. Doug Imbruce, Seye Ojumu, Rasmus Zwickson, and Greg Pape are a highly technical team and among the best we’ve seen in consumer mobile. They spent the last 12 months building proprietary machine learning models—trained on 100,000-plus hours of content—that not only drive personalized podcast discovery but will also drive a new format for audio consumption that is easier on the creator and more suitable to today’s consumer.

The machine learning models allow Podz to identify the highlights for any length of audio. Podcasts are just the beginning. We believe this new format will be an extreme competitive advantage, generating bite-sized, high-quality content at scale—automatically. 

Introducing innovative tools for audio listeners and creators

The Podz team has launched with a customizable infinite playlist of highlights from favorite and new podcasts. Podz identifies the most compelling 60-second clips of podcasts and transforms them into beautiful shareable videos, ultimately assembling a personalized feed of highlights for listeners. 

Features include:

A personalized feed of 60-second highlights of podcasts you love

Clips from your favorite shows that can be shared on your social channels with one tap or saved for later listening

The ability to play the full-length episode

Browse via hashtag for a variety of thought-provoking perspectives from leading personalities

For creators, Podz enables distributing audio to fans and new audiences on social media channels. Upcoming new tools will reduce the friction of audio production, leveraging the experience of Doug Imbruce and his team that started Qwiki—a photo and video creation app that began by transforming search results into video on demand, won TechCrunch Disrupt, and sold to Yahoo! for $50 million. Podz Co-founder and CTO Seye Ojumu previously co-founded MileWise, a travel app acquired by Yahoo!, and Rhiza, an ad sales and marketing tool acquired by Nielsen. 

Podz plans to grow the audience for existing audio, but the real focus will be on growing new audio by leveraging their creator tools. Already, the average podcast listener subscribes to seven podcasts but follows almost 30 on Podz. Early signals make us optimistic that the team can build a transformative product in the category. 
We imagine a world where podcasts effectively compete for attention with 100-character tweets and 10-second stories. Podz levels the playing field between podcasts and social media through an algorithmic approach to content creation and discovery, allowing us to fit this amazing medium into our busy digital lives every day.

Podz Co-founder and CEO Doug Imbruce

We’re proud to have led the seed investment of Podz and are joined by our friends at Canaan Partners, Charge Ventures, humbition, and angel investors. These are exciting times for audio creators and listeners alike. With Podz, quality audio will become an effortless daily habit.

Podz, now available on iOS, plans to host a series of audio events starting this month so follow them on Twitter and Instagram.