Pocket Casts, widely considered to be one of the best mobile apps
for podcast listening, has been acquired by a collective
group that includes NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago, and This
American Life. […]
Moving forward, Pocket Casts will operate as a joint venture
between the new owners. Philip Simpson and Russell Ivanovic, who
formed Shifty Jelly (Pocket Cast’s developer) in 2008, will have
unspecified “leadership roles.” The existing staff and development
team is staying put. Owen Grover, a veteran of iHeartRadio / Clear
Channel, has been named as Pocket Cast’s CEO. NPR’s apps including
NPR One will remain in development.
The acquisition price isn’t being disclosed. But the people behind
Pocket Casts are insistent they chose this path not because of
what the buyers paid, but because of who they are. “We have had
acquisition offers in the past,” Ivanovic told The Verge by email.
“We turned them down because the unique thing about this
opportunity is the mission driven nature of these organizations.
They want what’s best for the podcasting space, they want to build
open systems that everyone can use.”
I hope this works out great, but I would wager money that this is about user-tracking (for user-profile-based dynamic ad insertion) and embedding crap like listener surveys right in the player. Many of the shows in this collective are already doing dynamic ad insertions based on their best guess of your location based on your IP address. I could be wrong, and hope I am, but I’ll bet Pocket Casts will soon ask for permission to access your location. A CEO from Clear Channel is not encouraging.
The big podcast companies have been clamoring for intrusive user tracking in podcast players for years now, and podcast player makers — led by Apple — have resisted. So I think the NPR group just went ahead and bought a podcast player — and a good, popular one at that.