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Podtech raises $5.5 million to create the "NPR" of podcasting

John Furrier
Gee, this we weren't expecting...venture capital flowing to podcast creation.

John Furrier is a bit of a hyperactive guy you will see at technology conferences around Silicon Valley. He bounds around with a microphone, taking audio recordings of people, with seeming limitless reserves of energy.

He launched his own company, called Podtech last year, around the time we first bumped into him. He posts his audio recordings to his Web site, where you can subscribe to them as podcasts.

Podtech's site has seen about a million of podcasts downloaded, making Furrier realize he was on to something. People around the world wanted to listen to the recordings, and so he figured he should pull out the stops.

So today he announces he has received $5.5 million in venture backing from venture capital firms USVP and Venrock, both big-name Sand Hill Road firms.

This comes at a time when conventional wisdom says creating content like podcasts doesn't make much money.

You may have heard of Podshow and Odeo, two other services, which are creating advertising networks around podcasts.

But Podtech's Furrier is simply a guy doing podcasts. Granted, he says he's now got three other people working with him generating news podcasts, and ten employees overall. "We're a media company dedicated to podcasting," he told us. "We're not trying to build a network, or aggregate. We're just trying to create content."

He concedes: "It was passe. VCs said they don䴜t do content deals."

But there is a price for taking capital; the ramp-up begins:

1) He will be hiring a full podcasting news team, a sort of National Public Radio for podcasting.

2) He'll build out what he calls Infotalk. This is where other people produce podcasts in partnership with Podtech, and there will be some sort of split of the revenue generated from advertising running alongside or within the podcasts.

3) He'll build out a sponsorship network. These will be businesses like Intel (you will see Intel's feature channel on Podtech's homepage) which will pay Podtech to produce and host podcasts.

We asked Eric Copeland, venture capitalist at Venrock, how one makes money from content creation.

He said: "The answer is not so easy. If you䴜re a producer, you䴜ll have a consulting business, and you䴜ll make money, but you won䴜t have a highly scalable opportunity. So the thing for John to do is to kick-start production, to prove the model and get others to produce." The plan, he said, is for Furrier to generate revenue from advertising, from hosting, from distribution of podcasts and from "syndication" -- with "corporate marketing" being a big part of that.

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Granted, he says he's now got three other people working with him. "..

Matt: we have 10 employees now but I have three other people on the PodTech News team.


John Furrier on March 16, 2006 12:12 AM
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Thanks John. I've updated to add in the ten. Apologies.

Matt Marshall on March 16, 2006 12:41 AM
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hi john,

what about getting a chinese version going as there's a lot of ipod users here?

i've left a phone mesg. with jennifer jones with my contact details.


george cheung on March 16, 2006 6:40 AM
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Awesome news John, congratulations! Now we will do that podcast at some point won't we?

Gus Spathis on March 16, 2006 7:09 AM
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StreetIQ.com has been doing business podcasts for a while, too. Scottrade is its big corporate sponsor.

Henry Peglar on March 16, 2006 7:18 AM
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Hey... I've had 300K or so downloads. I'll take a mill.

Jesse Thorn on March 16, 2006 10:45 AM
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John -

Hearty congratulations to you and your team!

Brian O'Shaughnessy on March 16, 2006 12:32 PM
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Hi Matt,

I have a recent post about Silicon Valley's VC China Race. I thought it may be interesting to your readers. Do you want to link it to your site? Please let me know.


Helen Wang on March 16, 2006 5:13 PM
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He should have explained how podcasting makes money "from hosting" ...isn't it the other way around, paying out for leeched bandwith?

Or is this a hosting business with a podcast or a podcast with a hosting business?

PJ on March 16, 2006 8:31 PM
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Why would a "for profit" VC firm invest in the "NPR of podcasting"?

Just how profitable is NPR?

Are the pledge drives just a sham to fatten up the profit margins? Is that what they pay bonuses out of?

Or is "NPR of podcasting" just unfortunate rhetoric?

ELS on March 17, 2006 6:46 AM
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Congratulations and we here at Naughty Sheets applaud you! We would love to join your team!

NaughtySheets on March 17, 2006 5:48 PM
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You raise a good point about "NPR of podcasting." To be fair to John, he used the NPR analogy in the context of his news component, which is only one of three areas he'll be targeting (see the three points I mentioend in post). And so perhaps I distorted things a bit by focusing on it in the headline. I did so because I thought it captured the essence of the "content" nature of this company. But I know he's trying to figure out how to go after the big marketing dollars from companies.

Matt Marshall on March 18, 2006 11:04 AM
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