When billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban appeared at the Podcast Movement virtual conference in October, he said it is “late days” in the business cycle for podcasting, with the business having matured enough that it’s better to buy in some cases than create. But he apparently still sees an opening for ideas that offer new twists on the business, as Cuban has reportedly teamed up with tech developer Falon Fatemi to launch an app that describes itself as a “next-gen podcast platform.”
What they are calling Fireside Chat has features that seem to more closely resemble the audio offerings of Twitter and Clubhouse than a traditional podcast listening app. In a pitch sent to potential investors obtained by The Verge, Fatemi said the app they are calling Fireside will offer the ability to have live conservations with fans of a host and then record them for distribution like a podcast. “Today we say goodbye to current media platform limitations created by one-way conversations, a lack of interactivity, and non-existent analytics,” Fatemi said. Fireside is reportedly approaching podcasters to become founding partners in what The Verge says is an effort to build an initial roster of hosts to offer users when the app debuts.
One potential complication for the startup is there is already a podcast company called Fireside, a podcast hosting and analytics company that launched in 2016.
Fatemi most recently cofounded the customer intelligence startup Node that she sold last August.
Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA and is one of the stars of the hit television show “Shark Tank,” told Podcast Movement last fall that that despite the maturity of the podcasting space and the arrival of big-name players, there are still opportunities for “the little guy” — as long as they’re savvy and in touch with what’s happening in the broader marketplace.
Cuban said one big challenge facing podcasters is that they don’t always know who their listeners are. While technology is increasingly allowing creators to make inroads in that regard, he believes podcasters should focus on building a direct-to-consumer information base. That means gathering e-mail addresses, cell numbers — or whatever allows them to maintain contact.
“Wherever you can have any interactivity, that’s your brand,” Cuban said. “A lot of what we’ve been talking about is passive listening. And what’s going to separate you from the big guys is you can be truly interactive. I love Joe Rogan’s podcast. But with a million people listening, he’s not going to be able to be interactive. And it’s going to be far more difficult for him to engage with his listeners. That’s an opportunity that you have to start growing your audience — so hopefully you’ll be too big to be able to interact with everybody.”
Digital audio is not a new realm for Cuban, a one-time computer-networking executive. He co-founded one of the earliest streaming platforms in Broadcast.com which he and business partner Todd Wagner then sold to Yahoo for $5.7 million in 1999.