April 19, 2024
As podcast raises $13.5 million, its founder credits AI-powered growth in Armenia's 'mini-Silicon Valley' techcrunch

Podcastle, a podcasting platform that has boosted its product with various generative AI-powered features, has raised $13.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Mosaic Ventures.

Existing podcast investors RTP Global, Point Nine Capital, Sierra Ventures and Andrew Ng’s AI Fund were also participating. Squarespace CEO Anthony Casalena and Moonbug Media CEO Rene Rechtman also participated in the round.

The platform now claims to have nearly one million creators using its tools, many of which have AI-powered features, though this figure has not been independently verified.

In a statement, Simon Levene, co-founder and partner at Mosaic Ventures, commented: “The team at Arto and Podcastle have built a pioneering product, and are already showing signs of organic growth, we believe That this will accelerate in the coming years.”

In a conversation with Arto Yeritsyan, founder and CEO of Podcastle, he told me: “Last summer we released Podcast for Teams. So we’re moving from a single-user experience to a multiplayer experience. Therefore the purpose of this funding is to increase it. We saw this scale last year with a 10-fold increase. So basically, we’ll expand that.

Podcastle offers ReVoice, a generative AI voice cloning tool; Magic Dust AI to improve audio quality; Podcast hosting hub, and podcasts for teams.

He said the platform is focusing on long-form content creation in both audio and video: “Basically anything that produces content that isn’t like TikTok-type short-form content. We help teams collaborate, and it covers the whole workflow from brainstorming to actually delivering it to the audience, meaning you can record on our platform, then you can edit. Or you can invite someone to edit.

He also believes that the platform differentiates itself from competitors by offering real-time collaboration and AI functionalities.

“We compete with Riverside in terms of recording and Descript in terms of editing. Descript is desktop-based which you need to install on your computer, whereas we are web based and cover the entire flow. Our offering is therefore becoming a one-stop shop with real-time collaboration on the web. As a comparison, we would like Sketch vs Figma. Sketch needs to be installed on your computer, not really web-based or cloud-based where you can collaborate, and Figma originally came out as a collaboration product. So we are pretty much the same but for video and audio content creation.”

He plans to take advantage of both collaboration features and online editing: “In our case, you have the entire workflow within a single product. Podcasters can invite editors and the team to do editing and then invite marketers to create an asset like a long-form video from a short-form video and share it on social media from the same platform without leaving it.

I also asked him what the biggest trends in podcasting are right now.

“The biggest trend is what we call studio sound. Our tools can generate ‘pseudo quality audio’ from any input. So you can record something on your phone and the output you get is almost the same as if you were in a studio, even if you’re podcasting with three people, each of them with a different environment, microphone. Different distances, different noise levels.”

He says these tools were created because video podcasting is becoming very popular on YouTube, where it is being pioneered, so Podcastle introduced video tools to meet this demand: “No matter what camera you use, Do this, you can generate DSLR camera quality. You can add AI blur or Bokeh effects.

Another big trend is marketing, he says: “We got the ability to create a ton of shorts and distribute them across all the social platforms. AI gives you the opportunity to do this automatically instead of manually generating all the assets you need to share across different platforms to attract users to your long-form content.

He says consumers and businesses are starting to make their decisions not by scrolling through websites but by looking at their content: “They’re going to their YouTube channels, podcasts and listening to that and then making decisions, unlike the old ways. “As opposed to doing the opposite.”

I also asked him if he thought Armenia was becoming a tech hub, as unicorn companies like PicsArt have emerged there. The podcast’s engineering team operates out of Armenia, which is rapidly becoming a new European tech hub, boosted by the establishment of offices by major companies like Adobe and Nvidia in search of programming talent, particularly in AI.

“Yeah, definitely. We’re basically becoming a mini Silicon Valley here. You’ll see companies like Adobe building offices. The CEO of Adobe came here last year. We have Nvidia here, and people from companies like PicsArt are building their companies. Starting out. I was VP of engineering at PicsArt for about eight years,” he says.

The company recently appointed former Canva VP Alan Rechtman as its chief commercial officer; Damien Saccos VP of Growth (formerly Prezi); And Dmitry Kopylovsky has been promoted to chief marketing officer.

Source: techcrunch.com

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