A new social podcast app called Swoot has launched. It’s made by Pete Curley and Garret Heaton who previously created and sold to Atlassian the team communication app HipChat.
They’ve raised $3 million in seed funding for this new venture so far. They’re pitching it partly as a solution to the oh-so-legendary podcasting “discovery problem”, and partly as a way of bringing a more YouTube-like community and trending experience to podcast listening. Here’s what Curley told TechCrunch about that:
“We don’t realize how big [podcasting] is because there is no social thing where you see that Gangnam Style has 8 billion views, and you realize that the entire world is watching. There’s no view count, no anything that tells you what’s popular.”
Rather than providing public listener numbers for podcasts, Swoot is focusing on the social aspect by giving users a feed of their friend’s recommendations as well as an overall trending list within the app. Their approach is also focused on episodes rather than podcasts, with the aim of showing you very specifically what the people you follow are listening to at any given moment. (And yes, Curley’s interview also contains the obligatory “why doesn’t audio go viral?” point as well.)
There’s no monetisation element built into Swoot yet, and they’re still “exploring possibilities” for how that might happen in the future, from “integrating with other subscription or tipping services, or in creating ad opportunities around promoting podcasts”.
Obviously there’s very little that’s new in this idea. I mean, remember back when Anchor was a “social podcast app”, before they pivoted to become a no-frills podcast host and distributor in 2017? And for those of us who are really truly ancient, there are even points of comparison here with “Audioboo”, which launched in 2010 as a kind of Twitter-but-for-audio before becoming the more recognisable “Audioboom” in 2014 that now operates mostly as a third-party monetisation platform.
Plus, plenty of services like ListenNotes already provide a trending and “what people are listening to right now” dimension. But if technology history has taught us anything, it’s that branding an existing idea as a new solution has as good a chance of success as anything else. Now that Anchor has been scooped up by Spotify — we await to see exactly what its business model becomes in the wake of that acquisition — perhaps there’s an entry-level social podcast app-shaped gap that Swoot can fill.
Nick’s Note: Shouts to Breaker, also a social-ish podcast app. Also also, a productive exercise: who’s a potential buyer here?