Wondery has raised $10 million in Series B funding, according to a Wall Street Journal report that dropped this morning. It adds to the $5 million in Series A funding that the Los Angeles-based company raised in April 2018, which frankly feels like a lifetime ago.
Some key details in the write-up:
(1) The new financing round pegs the Los Angeles company’s valuation at “more than $100 million.” The round was led by Waverley Capital — a New York-based media venture firm founded by Edgar Bronfman Jr., the former chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group — and it involves existing investors Lerer Hippeau, Greycroft, BDMI, Advancit Capital, and Water Tower Ventures, plus newcomer Powerhouse Ventures.
(2) Here’s the money line: “Wondery hit $10 million in revenue last year, according to the people with knowledge of the new funding round, and became profitable in the fourth quarter. It is on track for $25 million in revenue this year, according to the people, and expects to turn an annual profit.”
Interestingly, that’s about $5 million lower than what The Ringer, which pursues a conversational/volume-based content strategy, pulled in last year.
(3) Also highlighted was this connection, which I should have clocked earlier: so, in case you don’t remember, Wondery was founded by Hernan Lopez, the former CEO of Fox International Channels, with some seed investment money from Twentieth Century Fox (now known as 21st Century Fox, I guess). And in case you weren’t following, there’s been this mega-media M&A situation in which Disney has acquired Fox and the majority of its assets.
As the WSJ article points out, this has additionally appeared to translate to Disney now owning “just over 1%” of the company. Just something to file away in the back of your head.
The report also outlined what appears to be Wondery CEO Hernan Lopez’s strategic ambitions for the coming months:
- Further growing the company’s original content portfolio, obviously, but also with designs to expand into international markets.
- Creating shows in different languages.
- Like just about everybody else, getting into the daily podcast business.
I presume Wonder will also continue deepening its podcast-to-Hollywood adaptation pipeline, given its cultural advantage of being situated in LA, plus its increasing activities in striking up partnerships with news brands. (See “Shrink Next Door” with Bloomberg, and upcoming projects with the Los Angeles Times.)
Three quick things from my end:
- The new capital strikes me as coming at an interesting time, given the general air floating around the podcast industry following the Spotify acquisitions of Gimlet Media, Anchor, and Parcast dating back to February. I’ve heard from more than a few podcast executives and operators who have all independently assumed that Wondery was very likely going to be picked up next. With this new funding round, it feels like the stage is set for a longer timeline as a free agent. Who knows, still could happen.
- Gotta say, though: Wondery has built what feels like a smartly-constructed business. $10 million in 2018 is nothing to sniff at, ESPECIALLY when you consider just how much of Wondery’s portfolio is made up of limited-run series — and just how much the company has worked around that structural monetization problem.
- Very curious about the international/non-English language angles. As always, it comes down to whether they can monetize those markets, and that, in turn, depends on whether they can draw in advertisers from those products.
Anyway, I’m due to interview Hernan later today for next week’s issue. If there’s anything you’d like to know, hit me up.