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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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I Don’t Get Podcasting – Yet

Comments (15)

I’ve been trying to figure out how to invest in Podcasting.  I have a bunch of exposure to it via my investments in FeedBurner and NewsGator (hint – coming soon – maybe even this week).  However, I don’t listen to Podcasts much because I’m a reader, I’ve never been a talk radio guy, and I couldn’t figure out when to listen to them.

Until recently, I was a running purist – no music on my runs (I found my iPod too bulky and I thought I should just enjoy nature.)  Well – on a long run – after about an hour – I’ve had enough of nature, all the random thoughts have cycled through my brain, and I’m ready for some music (or talk radio).  So – I’ve started running with my iPod Shuffle recently (quickly becoming an indispensable running tool).  I started with music, but figured I’d try listening to Podcasts to try to understand both the phenomenon and the dynamic.

I had a crossover moment today on my run while listening to Dick Costolo’s interview on Venture Voice (which is great BTW – I love working with Dick and this interview (part 1, part 2) is a great 40 minute investment for any entrepreneur.)  I suddenly got why people listen to this stuff and realized that if I was bored, I could simply skip to the next, tune out for a while, or take my headphones out of my ear and just enjoy the run.  So – I’m hooked – and will start listening to Podcasts while I work out.

I’ve been paying attention to the various areas that are being focused on by VCs, including creation, subscription, hosting, and search / discovery.  I’m really struggling to see how it’s different from features that are quickly being rolled into other services, other than the nuances associated with dealing with audio (and video for vLogs) vs. text.  We’ll see.

  • http://texasvc.weblogswork.com/?p=16 Texas Venture Capital

    VC Money Looking for Podcasting Investments

    Brad Feld, managing director at Mobius Venture Capital, has invested in a couple of “new” Internet infrastructure companies including FeedBurner and NewsGator. He is now looking for a way to put Mobius money to work in the Podcasting spac…

  • http://bigben.blogs.com Ben Casnocha

    yep, I agree as I mentioned in a last comment. Great podcast with Dick – but how dare you let him say “To be perfectly honest” more than a couple times in a few minutes!

  • http://www.feedburner.com Dick Costolo

    At least I’ve stopped referring to myself in the third person. Baby steps, Ben. Baby steps!

  • http://www.smartfeed.org Kevin Cawley

    Glad to see you have caught the podcasting bug. There is something raw, refreshing, and incredibly engaging about listening to a person talk about topics of interest w/o any censorship or other restrictions. I need my fix of the �Daily Source Code� and �Morning Coffee Notes� about as much as I need my daily fix of Amante coffee!

    As the author of a mobile podcatcher, I have a biased opinion on podcasting investment opportunities, but here are my 2 cents. … A significant podcasting value proposition lies on the front end of the loop. The mainstream consumer is going to want to enjoy podcasts on his or her favorite mobile device and that needs to happen with minimal user intervention. Ultimately the real dollars have to come from this consumer who is willing to pony up for subscriptions and software to enable this experience.

    Currently, it is a bit of a hassle to get podcasts onto one�s mobile device � there is too much manual intervention that needs to happen. iTunes is putting a heavy focus on podcasting in the next release, so that will remove some of the burden for iPod owners.

    But I am a big fan of having one device that serves all my needs, and I am sure I am not alone. In my case, I own a MS Mobile Smart Phone device that allows me to monitor email, instant message, make phone calls, organize my day, listen to Jack Johnson, and of course catch and listen to podcasts without any dependency on my PC. Ha� if I were to invest I would invest in a product that seamlessly lets one podcatch from a mobile device (I did mention that my opinion was biased, but well-formed)!

    -kevin, author smartFeed.org

  • http://specialtyinsurance.typepad.com/ Bob Sargent

    I am more of a reader as well, but I have used my iPod while running for a while. Books (audible) are great, but podcasting does not do it for me.

    While I agree that podcasting is the future, it has a ways to go. It is not possible to skim a podcast the way you can skim an article or book. I think the key is going to be mechanisms which help categorize podcasts so people don’t have to spend as much time listening to the ones they don’t want. Maybe there is an investment opportunity in that.

    Thanks for this. Too much hype for podcasting at this point.

  • http://raymond.blogg.no/210605002331_podcastintervju_med_dick_costolo.html raymond

    Podcast-intervju med Dick Costolo fra Feedburner

    Feedburner er en tjeneste som – vel du kan lese om Feedburner på hjemmesiden deres. Jeg har brukt Feedburner for min videoblogg siden desember, og har et godt forhold til selskapet (kjenner faktisk vice-president Rick Klau fra hans tidligere dager h

  • http://benbarren.blogspot.com Ben Barren

    Hey Brad – I use a Shuffle too. Question – Are you able to fast forward simply on it ? Many people myself included couldnt for awhile till I realised I just keep the FF button down (although I also uploaded new IPOD updater software and before I did that I swear I couldnt fast forward) – Now my Shuffle comes on all my flat bar road bike rides.

    I have been trying to get my head around the same question, mainly from an ‘import the best model to Australia’ perspective but also from a what is the world’s best niche to invest and play in.

    I myself, will now listen to a podcast before Music on my Shuffle. Podcasts, the best, include music, so all the business models ala Itunes, Yahoo Music, Napster etc – podcasting impacts them – but still so what ?

    The two players in this space to date with the most ‘start-up’ visibility I would say is Adam Curry and Odeo (ex Blogger founder Evan Williams) Curry’s approach is the more organic and probably the more on the money from an end-end value chain perspective. (you need to download dailysourcecode.com)

    I use Ipodder as much as Newsgator and I think it will be very hard to change this behaviour even if an RSS reader (as netnewswire 2.0) reads the MP3 enclosure – You need an app/reader just to deal with the podcasts. (although it could be a tab on the reader I guess, but would bet the leaders in each space stay separate for a while)

    At the moment, it is quite hard to find a podcast, then to sync it, and then once you are sick of blogging and listening to other people’s podcasts, you want to create your own. So people will make money by selling the tools to the goldminers, not the gold itself.

    I think there will be definite value in the search side (like technorati and feedster did for blogs – which they dont do for podcasts) Also, there will be real value in podcasting directories, but more so (because of all the new ones etc) in the ratings and personalisation side : How else am I going to find a podcast that suits me with all the millions of them going on.

    The tool I go back to every day – in fact multiple times a day – is in the reader (ipodder – lemon and x, nimiq etc) and then its in the tools I need to make a podcast (which is impossible to achieve and someone like apple is going to have to develop or buy someone) followed by podcasting specific hosting and tools (feedburner meets libsyn.com for podcasters) and finally in the monetisation/ad sense/network models.

    So Curry has the ipodder directory which he has hired a new person to really develop (6K+ podcasts, updated in real time, pinging etc incl !) then he has his digital satellite 4 hour daily radio show with sirius, his 5 times a week 40min daily source code, and he has the beta of cast blaster and megaseg which are the tools you need to make a podcast. Finally he has the podshow network of podcasts incl quite a few top 10 podcasts by traffic eg dawn and drew, yeast radio, his own show etc

    Not a bad strategy if he can pull it all together and monetise it with software sales to newbie podcasters backed up with sponsorship revenue for high trafficked podcasts – eg when paris hilton was in house of wax movie, they developed a branded reader for warner bros and promoted her 6 series podcasts (6 minutes of paris at red carpet premieres talking into an iriver) and the ads went over the podshow/curry network

    odeo is trying to equally do an end-end podcasting play with their mantra being listen-sync-create, but the create part is not yet finished because it is so hard. Their sync feature is like an ipodder etc or is meant to be but I found it had lots of problems so I only use their listen feature which is like a magazine format which allows me to preview and listen to podcasts – They have a top 40 based on number of their members subscribed.

    The number 1 place to get podcast ratings is podcastalley.com which has monthly ratings based on the number of votes, which is flawed as all the upncoming podcasters – soccergirl, keith and the girl etc all say “please vote for us on podcast alley” – its not really a test of what is best or suited to my taste.

    But podcastalley has definitely developed a community but needs to be turned into a business – Nice little turnaround growth play. (but too small for your tastes :)

    Which gets me to the part of the business which is most interesting and actually mimics what is going on in the RSS reader market you know well :)

    “Personalisation” : The holy grail for all RSS including podcasting.

    Personalisation and Ratings : Companies that develop real time, large sample, proprietary podcasting ratings, which enable users to have recommendations made for them, or be told reliable ratings by category, that is a great service.

    The Billboard Ratings of Podcasting

    So whats the business model ? Well yeah I guess its just advertising. But it would also be a great software/data play to the major portals etc as it would power their recommendations when they embrace podcasting as we r told they will.

    And an industry ratings subscription service for all the podcasting networks and podcasters themselves. (ala feedburner analytics for podcasters again !)

    Yahoo for example with their new music service have a personalised radio channel. The Feedburner CTO wrote a great post about how it recommends songs to you eg “hey you just listened to white stripes, other listeners that listened to white stripes like Jet’s new album” – I spend hours each week looking for podcasts, and yahoo/google’s audience is going to have real trouble.

    In the short term, I’d buy the Podcasting readers with the biggest audience and best technology – ipodder, ipodderx, and I’d also buy a podcasting directory/content site – maybe ipodder.org plus podcastingalley.com, I’d also offer $70K plus ea + % of ad revenue contracts to 3-5 of the best podcasters out there (and already in the top 20) who are unemployed and cant pay hosting costs.. then I’d find a piece of software that enabled people to create podcasts easy, and Id commission a 100 page functional spec on ‘Personalisation and Top 100 Real Time Podcasts’ then send it to Satyam in Bangalore to build.. Wrap it up… and fold it into whichever is the leading RSS platform player at the time.

    OK, back to keithandthegirl.com for me, brad – have u tried coverville.com – some great music covers, they just had their 100 show, it comes out three times a week, and to quote Steve Jobs address (in the inverse) when announcing podcasting “Its very professional”.

    BB
    http://benbarren.blogspot.com
    RSS’ing down under

  • http://affygility.com/blogs/index.html Dean

    Hey Brad, itunes 4.9 just came out yesterday with podcasting support. It’s awesome. Got to try it. No screwing around trying to figure how to get a feed. Also, the folks at Apple did a great job on the options. Allows you to have the artwork, options on saving just the most current postcast, etc.

  • David Roshak

    From a podcast standpoint, audio content still has a way to go. I have found several practical applications for CFO’s–namely listening to things that are “nice to know” but too boring to read on a regular basis. Case in point is “Earningscast” which downloads all quarterly public earnings calls. Much easier to skip management comments to get to the Q&A. I believe commercial content will continue to improve riding iPod wave.

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