Spotify snaps up AI startup Podz which helps listeners find the perfect podcast


Podz launched its "Audio Newsfeed" on iOS in February.
Photo: Podz

As part of the podcasting arms race between tech giant, Spotify has acquired Podz, an AI podcast discovery service for an undisclosed amount of money. Podz generates (or generated) short audio clips that populated a Instagram Stories-style timeline users could flip through to find podcasts they were likely to enjoy listening to.

In a press release on its website, Spotify noted that it:

“has had machine learning experts focused on improving audio discovery for almost a decade, but there is more work to be done. We believe that Podz’ technology will complement and accelerate Spotify’s focused efforts to drive discovery, deliver listeners the right content at the right time, and accelerate growth of the category worldwide.”

Machine learning to the rescue

Podz uses machine learning to generate high quality audio clips that lets users preview key moments from podcast episodes. The company is pretty new, having only left stealth mode earlier this year. It created an AI based on 100,000 hours of audio. This looked through the most popular 5,000 podcasts to create 60-second snippets. The idea was to gradually drill down on the content users would be interested in, so as to generate user-appropriate clips. Say, for instance, you’re interested in Elon Musk interviews, the Podz AI would be able to learn this and pull out relevant interviews in the future. Presumably that work will now be continued at Spotify.

The Podz website previously gave users a link to download its mobile app. However, it now has a message that reads: “We’re excited to help power podcast discovery for the world’s number one audio platform.”

The iOS Podz app — which I used on a semi-regular basis — also no longer works. Instead, it contains a message from Podz thanking users for their support over the past few months. According to Spotify, the plan is to “integrate Podz’ technology” into the Spotify experience. The first signs of this will supposedly show up later this year.

The battle over podcasting

Spotify has worked hard to grow its dominance in the podcast space. It famously signed up popular podcast host Joe Rogan to a $100 million deal last year. It’s having to move fast, though. Other tech giants including Apple are trying to lay claim to podcasting as well. Apple recently launched its Apple Podcast Subscriptions, which allows creators to charge subscribers for premium podcasts. Facebook is also getting in on podcasting. The social network will this month launch its own podcasting platform. Interestingly, Facebook is working on a feature that will let listeners create clips from their top shows.

Spotify and Apple are currently the two leading streaming music services worldwide. Spotify remains in the number one position — and it’s seemingly working very hard to maintain that lead. And spending the money to do so, too.

Source: Spotify