Two co-founders of HipChat — the team chat app sold to Atlassian, then bought and shut down by Slack — have launched a new podcast app called Swoot, designed to encourage the discovery of new shows and hot episodes from friend to friend. Their goals are to enable podcasts from smaller producers to go viral and achieve monetization opportunities that have yet to reach them.
In starting up Swoot, users are encouraged to link up their Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as their contacts list. They can then choose to follow friends who are already using the app. From there, they can see what their friends are listening to and what they're specifically recommending in an activity feed — little green icons appear next to a person's avatar whenever they listen to at least 20 percent of an episode. After that, it's pretty much like any other podcast app.
Co-founder Pete Curley told TechCrunch that he and partner Garret Heaton wanted to emphasize what people are listening to in the moment since there hasn't been a good metric to illustrate that.
“In the 700,000 shows that exist, if you’re the 690,000 worst-ranked show, but you have one great episode that should be able to go viral, that’s basically impossible to do right now, because audio is crazy hard to share,” Curley said.
Right now, listener histories and recommendations are public, but an update is on the way which will give users a privacy toggle for their histories. Swoot purposefully has no comment boxes so as not to let people troll around and discourage people from sharing.
Popular competitor Castbox also has a more limited community feature that allows users to give their thoughts on episodes and comment on other strangers' opinions. The concept, however, seems more tuned toward measuring the buzz around shows rather than revolving the listening experience around friends.
Swoot has raised $3 million in a funding round with help from True Ventures.
As for how it will help podcasters make their own money, Curley said that the market hasn't seen a "mature" selling platform up to now.
"I think the endgame, where the real money is made in podcasting, actually hasn't been come up with yet."
Unlike YouTube, where Google facilitates massive programmatic ad transactions for video creators, large platforms such as Midroll may be out of reach for most publishers. This leaves them to either chase down their own clients or turn to crowdfunding sites like Patreon. How Swoot might swoop into this equation is yet to be seen.
Swoot is available for Android and iOS. Check it out for yourself with the Google Play Store link below.