Nas among investors in podcast start-up’s $2.3m seed funding

9 Aug 2019

Brian Elison and Amira Valliani. Image: Glow

Glow, which aims to tackle the difficulties podcasters have when it comes to monetisation, has raised more than $2m.

On Thursday (8 August), Glow, a start-up aimed at podcasters, announced that it had closed $2.3m in seed funding.

The round was led by Greycroft with participation from Norwest Venture Partners, PSL Ventures, WndrCo and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. There were also individual investors, including rapper Nas and Electronic Arts CTO Ken Moss.

Glow was built by content creators and fans who have first-hand experience with the difficulties podcasters have when it comes to monetisation.

The start-up’s CEO and co-founder, Amira Valliani, was a White House adviser during the Obama administration. After producing a podcast covering local elections in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Valliani began considering potential business models for podcasts.

She developed Glow with chief product officer Brian Elison. With the platform, podcasters create a subscription page on Glow’s website, which accepts payments and allows listeners to access paywalled content from the podcast app of their choice. It enables podcasters to charge listeners for ad-free content, early access, episode backlogs and bonus content.

Glow’s team tested the platform with Acquired, a podcast that focuses on start-ups. Acquired has 15,000 listeners and has secured income of $35,000 via Glow. Subscribers receive two bonus episodes per month, which are inaccessible to regular listeners.

The company is still in its early days, explaining on its website: “Our first step is making it simple and easy for listeners to support podcasters directly. Over time we will build richer and deeper ways for creators to connect with their audiences and build a sustainable business.”

Since the start-up launched its beta service in June, more than 100 podcasts have begun to use Glow, including The NewsWorthy, Twenty Thousand Hertz, Techmeme Ride Home, Dig In and Founders.

Fast-growing medium

Glow could potentially move in the direction of distribution but doesn’t have any solid plans to release a podcast app of its own. “For us, we think distribution means helping podcasts grow their audience,” Valliani told TechCrunch.

In a statement, Nas said: “The direct relationship between artists and their fans is more important than it’s ever been, and podcasting is the perfect medium to build that relationship. Five years from now, people are going to be earning annuities off of podcast content and Glow is going to make that happen.”

Founder and managing director of Greycroft, Alan Patricof, added: “We’ve been looking for a company tackling the subscription business model in podcasting in the right way that’s native to the medium. Creators have relied solely on advertising for too long, and we love the sustainable way that Glow enables podcasters to thrive in this incredibly fast-growing media category.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic