Home / Tech News / Podcast app Castbox raises $13.5 million, launches its own original programming

Podcast app Castbox raises $13.5 million, launches its own original programming

Riding excessive on the rising shopper demand for podcasts, a startup known as Castbox this morning introduced the shut of $13.5 million in Series B funding for its technology-fueled podcast app. The spherical was led by SIG China, and contains participation from current traders IDG Capital, Qiming Venture Partners, and GSR Ventures.

To date, Castbox has raised $29.5 million.

While there are a selection of podcast functions available on the market as we speak, what makes Castbox attention-grabbing is the proprietary expertise it has below the hood. The platform makes use of pure language processing and machine studying strategies to energy a few of its distinctive options, like personalised suggestions and in-audio search.

The app is able to making options of what to hearken to subsequent, primarily based on person’s prior listening conduct, which will help to enhance discovery of podcasts folks might like. Meanwhile, the in-audio search characteristic takes benefit of the current leaps the business has seen with voice recognition expertise, and truly transcribes the audio content material inside podcasts, indexes it, and makes it obtainable for search inside the Castbox app.

That means customers not should depend on issues like episode titles, descriptions and present notes to discover a podcast associated to a subject they need to hearken to – they’ll simply search the Castbox app for any podcasts the place the time period was talked about.

These differentiating options, up to now, look like attracting customers. Castbox’s app has been put in 15 million occasions, and as we speak sees 1.eight million each day customers, with a retention fee of 50 %. While the corporate doesn’t have a technique to instantly correlate its options’ utilization to those figures, its person rankings and critiques together with a lot of feedback referencing them, together with compliments concerning the app’s total clear person interface and expertise, notes Castbox founder Renee Wang.

Wang, who beforehand labored at Google in Japan and Dublin, had initially created Castbox due to her personal troubles to find a participant that supported completely different languages or gave personalised suggestions. Castbox was then additional developed in response to person suggestions and with a concentrate on improved podcast discovery.

Today, Castbox has a worldwide person base, with solely 45 % from the U.S. But these customers are most engaged. Americans spend probably the most time within the app, listening to a mean of 113 minutes per day, says Wang. Chinese customers, in the meantime, subscribe probably the most, with a mean of 12 subscriptions per person.

With the extra funding, Castbox is including one other massive differentiator to its app: unique programming.

The firm kicked off its efforts with “Castbox Originals,” because it unique reveals are known as, with its first sequence, “Off Track with Hinch and Rossi.” The present stars Indy automotive drivers James Hinchcliffe and Alexander Rossi, and was made in partnership with INDYCAR. That was adopted by “Heard Well Now,” an influencer-driven music podcast sequence in partnership with influencer music label Heard Well.

Both had been designed to be area of interest sequence that may drive new audiences – particularly race automotive followers and teenagers – to podcasts.

The titles aren’t unique to Castbox, although – they’re additionally distributed via main platforms like Apple and Spotify. The reveals, nevertheless, will embody promoting which is how Castbox now goals to earn cash.

The upcoming slate of reveals will even embody a scripted sequence known as “Be.Scared,” the place listeners can hear tales of horror from modern writers, in addition to a full-length true crime mockumentary for followers of “Serial,” a wrestling podcast, and a sequence of women-hosted podcasts.

“We’re investing a chunk of the new capital into original programming and strategic partnerships with creators,” says Wang. “Over the next two months, we’ve committed to launching more than a dozen Castbox Originals in addition to the ones we’ve already released in the past 30 days. On this front, we’ll continue identifying the right partners to work with as we expand our content strategy, which will allow us to strengthen our brand in the podcasting space,” she provides.

While the price of launching a brand new present will differ primarily based on a lot of components – like voice expertise, writing, enhancing, music, advertising, promotion, and many others. – the complete course of can vary anyplace from a couple of hundred {dollars} to hundreds.

The new funding will even be used to enhance Castbox’s expertise platform, together with enhancements to usability, content material discovery, and personalization.

SIG China’s involvement speaks to Castbox’s roots – the startup initially launched within the Chinese market, however since relocated its headquarters to San Francisco, whereas sustaining an engineering workplace in Beijing. The staff is now 52 full-time workers, and can proceed to develop all year long.

“Castbox has proven constant development throughout all metrics, however extra importantly, Renee and her staff share nice imaginative and prescient for the corporate,” mentioned Andy Gao of SIG China, in an announcement. :They’re extraordinarily passionate concerning the podcasting area and their resolution to share their content material brazenly reveals simply how invested they’re. As this new medium takes off and goes mass-market, we’re excited to see what’s subsequent to return for Castbox.”

Castbox, in fact, has fierce competitors within the U.S., the place there are dozens of other podcast gamers obtainable throughout platforms, along with these from main gamers like Apple, and streaming companies like Spotify or TuneIn. But customers are all the time in search of the “best” app to serve their wants, and Castbox’s concentrate on discovery, and now, Originals, may give it the additional edge because it grows.


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