Thursday, December 3, 2020

Report: Amazon Kicking Tires At Wondery Inc. is in exclusive talks to purchase podcast startup Wondery, according to The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the matter, as the tech giant pushes further into the growing audio sector.

The talks value Wondery at over $300 million, the people said. Wondery’s last funding round, in June 2019, valued the company at $100 million, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The company is on track to increase revenue to more than $40 million this year, according one person familiar with the matter, with about 75% of that coming from advertising and the rest from licensing to TV, to subscription services like Audible and Stitcher Premium and to Wondery’s own premium subscription service, which launched this summer.

The deal talks are continuing and negotiations could still fall apart, the people said.

Closely held Wondery is the last large, independent podcaster on the market—and could present the final opportunity for a major tech or media giant to buy its way into the exploding field. Wondery’s investors include venture-capital firms such as Waverley Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Greycroft Partners and Advancit Capital.

Amazon’s foray coincides with a growth spurt for the small but rapidly expanding podcasting industry. Once the domain for super-niche fare, true-crime content and pop-culture dissections, the format has exploded in recent years as a destination for high-profile entertainment and political programming. Podcasting as a whole is attracting over 100 million monthly active listeners, according to Edison Research.

U.S. ad revenue from podcasts, meanwhile, rose an estimated 48% to $708.1 million last year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and is projected to exceed $1 billion by 2021.

Major players in the tech and media sectors have acquired several other podcast startups in recent years. Spotify Technology SA bought Gimlet Media, a maker of narrative podcasts, in 2019 for more than $200 million. New York Times Co. NYT 0.92% in July said it would acquire Serial Productions, maker of the hit podcast “Serial,” in a deal that could be worth as much as $50 million depending on milestones and performance metrics, the Journal reported.

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