Himalaya Media, a San Francisco-based podcasting startup, has raised $ 100 million to position itself as a new force in podcast distribution. The company has launched applications for Android and iOS and is preparing to launch a series of exclusive shows.
The main investor of Himalaya is Ximalaya, the largest spoken language audio platform in China. Other investors include General Atlantic and SIG. Himalaya has also formed content partnerships with the Dallas Mavericks, Starburns Industries and Studio71.
Among the original programs planned for the first time on the platform, include a podcast of the "Vanderpump Rules" star, James Kennedy, a weekly podcast hosted by famed chef Hugh Acheson in Atlanta and a show featuring the editor Chief of OZY, Eugene S. Robinson. . Himalaya is also working on a podcast of Mavericks player Luka Doncic.
Himalaya distributes these shows via its website, as well as Android and iOS apps, which also offer access to a catalog of about 20 million subscribed podcast episodes. "Himalaya seeks to be the cleanest and most intuitive application that does the most for its partners and the community," said Peter Vincer, vice president of Global Partnerships and Marketing.
The news of the launch of Himalaya comes at the same time that Spotify doubled the number of podcasts: Earlier Wednesday, the streaming service announced the acquisition of podcast studio Gimlet Media and the start of monetization podcast Anchor.
One of the differentiators that Himalaya wants to use to attract podcasters to its platform is a failover feature that allows fans to support their favorite shows through micro-payments.
Over time, Himalaya is also looking to add paid content to its application. "The US market has shown that it can support paid content and other major international markets have developed even better models," said Vincer. "We believe that it is possible in the future to add better premium capabilities in the application, and we plan strategically for this future."
Ximalaya FM is one of the services that Himalaya can draw on for such premium content plans. Managed by the largest investor in Himalaya, Ximalaya FM has become the largest audio-word sharing service in China, with 400 million applications downloaded.
The two companies seem closely linked, but Vincer quickly declared his independence when asked what the relationship was between the two companies this week. "We have access to Ximalaya's expertise and resources, but we are fortunate and grateful to be able to operate with an independent vision and unique goals," he said.
The creation of Himalaya as an independent entity may be a strategic decision given the current tension between the United States and China, as well as the constraints to which a platform for spoken creation in that country is subjected. This configuration also ensures that Himalaya is not associated with some of the strangest efforts of Ximalaya: Last year, the Chinese company launched a dedicated version of its smart speaker for members of the Chinese Communist Party.