Swoot

Is podcast listening a “lonely and lacking” experience? A San Francisco start-up seems to think it is, so it’s launching an app that it says will make podcast consumption a more social medium. “We are incredibly excited to introduce Swoot to the world today," co-founder Pete Curley says. “We built Swoot so people can connect with their friends, discover shows together, and never miss awesome podcasts again.”

Swoot is a podcast listening app that allows users to see what their friends are listening to. The theory is that it will help people sort through the thousands of shows available by using human connections rather than machine algorithms.

The idea may be a good one but it has its limits, as explained by one reviewer of the app in the Google Play store. “This seems to be an interesting idea. Unfortunately, none of my friends are on Swoot making this whole social aspect moot for me,” he said.

The company says Swoot has already seen promising results, nevertheless. During a beta test 25% of podcasts played by users were brought about by friend influences. “We've already seen a few episodes go viral across the entire network, showing the power of social networking for podcasts and enabling the best content to reach a huge audience," said Curley. "This is unthinkable with today's podcast ecosystem.”

Edison Research’s Podcast Consumer 2019 report shows two-thirds of monthly online podcast consumers at least occasionally rely on recommendations from friends and family to discover new podcasts. That’s the same as those who look at social media posts. Searching the internet is the top discovery method. It’s how 73% said they sometimes find shows.

Swoot is the latest venture from Curley and Garret Heaton, who previously founded the chat and instant messaging service HipChat, which they then sold to Atlassian in 2012. Swoot has so far raised $3 million through a seed funding round led by True Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm that invests in early stage technology startups.

Jon Callaghan, co-founder of True Ventures, says they have worked closely with Curley and Heaton since 2006. "They are two of the sharpest product designers I've been lucky enough to work with, and, with Swoot, they have turned their talents to the burgeoning yet fundamentally flawed podcasting experience,” Callaghan said. “Swoot will change how creators and listeners alike experience podcast media, and their product will unlock enormous creativity for all."