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Follow-ups to Spotify-Gimlet

I need a break from spilling out my brain juice on this subject, if only because I require some time to process and get a clearer view on the bigger picture. In the meantime, some details to clock that didn't make the emergency newsletter bonanza...

I need a break from spilling out my brain juice on this subject, if only because I require some time to process and get a clearer view on the bigger picture. In the meantime, some details to clock that didn’t make the emergency newsletter bonanza:

  • You probably know this by now, but just in case: Spotify has apparently allocated $400-$500M in possible podcast-related acquisitions this year, and that it apparently already has some other candidates in mind. Between Gimlet’s $230M and whatever Anchor went for, the Swedish streaming platform has already spent well over half that budget.
  • Obvious question now: who are the potential pick-ups? Split the question into two directions: (1) are we due for more content pick-ups? And (2) what podcast technology companies are there that could be useful to them? Will any of them be valued high enough to account for a meaningful portion of that cap space? Could the technology play be something that involves smart speakers, not just podcasts? I’d love to hear your candidates, but my gut feeling is that there aren’t actually many mature targets.
  • Off Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw’s Twitter feed: “SPOT CFO Barry McCarthy… Spotify is going to retain all staff from Gimlet/Anchor. They just keep doing what they did, but with Spotify’s balance sheet.” Told ya.
  • Be sure to read through the transcript of Spotify CEO Daniel Ek on CNBC yesterday. Notable quote: “We had 14 exclusive shows in the fourth quarter of 2018. We’re doubling down on that. And we want to grow the number of shows that we have.” Gimlet is probably be leading the charge on that, presumably making my AT&T-HBO comparison the reality here.
  • The dude Peter Kafka recorded an interview with Matt Lieber and Alex Blumberg on his podcast, Recode Media. That should be up by the time you read this.
  • Spotify is finally profitable, by the way. But it won’t last, says The Verge. At this writing, its stock was trading at $135.45.

Speaking of Kafka, he and I were guests on BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show shortly after the deals were officially announced. Pair that with the time I went on Kafka’s podcast in 2017… man, much has changed. Also, I went on Techmeme’s Ride Home podcast to talk about the news.

Okay, so. Been getting a ton of email about this news, obviously, and one of the biggest trends is folks asking me for prediction on what’s going to happen. Personally, I don’t like making predictions, because I just don’t see the universe that way, but instead, I’m planning to spend next Tuesday’s column laying out the 30,000 foot picture, or at least how I see it.

In the meantime, here are a couple of Other People’s Takes that I found interesting:

(1) Thought this was a really smart post from Amanda McLoughlin, who runs an independent podcast collective and who makes a comparison to life after the YouTube acquisition.

(2) Edison Research’s Tom Webster, as always, is worth a jaunt: “Here’s what I can tell you–the labels are interested in podcasting. First, because they see it as a threat. But soon, hopefully now, an opportunity. If there were a simplified, not-draconian licensing scheme that allows podcasters to feature licensed music without needless bureaucracy or crushing royalties, we’d get a lot more music-oriented podcasts.”

(3) RadioPublic Jake Shapiro has an interesting thread: “There’s definitely a risk of a “Tragedy of the Commons” where the inevitable moat-building strategies of major platforms ultimately harm the growth of a healthy podcast world before it has a chance to realize its potential.”

One last thing: what of Apple? That’s something that a lot of people has been asking about since the Spotify news broke. I even tweeted out a question of the kind. The thinking being, of course: now that Spotify is aggressively signalling its intent to eat its podcast market share — or centrality in the podcast ecosystem or whatever — will Apple kick its involvement in the space up a notch?

Honestly, the only people that knows this answer is Apple. But let me raise a not-entirely contrarian take: do they actually have to? Also: do folks actually want what they might get should that happen?