I’ve learned that Art19 has laid off nine staffers in recent weeks, a development that comes as the company makes a transition from operating as a specialized podcast hosting technology provider towards a more diversified podcast company. That transition was made official earlier this month, when the company announced the launch of a new content division, a new direct sales division, and a comedy podcast network at the IAB Podcast Upfronts.
“As part of our evolution from hosting company to full podcast media company, we needed to part ways with a few staffers,” said CEO Sean Carr, when I reached out for comment. “This is of course disappointing and sad, and we aimed to make the transition as painless as we could for the employees affected. But we’re more excited than ever about the future of ART19. In fact, we’re actually hiring right now, and we’ll be sharing more announcements about key hires and additional partnerships in the weeks ahead.”
Art19 has been around in some form or another since 2011, when it was founded by Carr and Matt Bellknap — who you might know as the co-host and producer of Jimmy Pardo’s Never Not Funny — as an early attempt to figure out podcast monetization. It’s shape-shifted a bunch since then, and this new incarnation seems to be an indication of an increasing real challenge in 2020: it’s hard to just be a podcast hosting and monetization platform when you’ve got Spotify coming around that specific bend.