Acast, the Stockholm-based podcast hosting and analytics company, has raised $27.8 million (€25 million) in new financing in a “quasi-equity” deal with the European Investment Bank. Acast says it will use the funding to expand research and development of its audio content and advertising distribution platform. They are also using funds to continue expanding its services internationally, adding to the 10 countries, including the U.S., where they already operate.
“The EIB’s investment and support of Acast is a true milestone in our company's growth as well as in the future of the global podcasting infrastructure. Today, we are one step closer to our goal of seeking out and supporting all the audio storytellers of the world – giving their stories the audience they deserve,” said Leandro Saucedo, Chief Business Officer of Acast. In addition to its hosting platform, Acast also works with several media brands including the BBC, Billboard, Vice, Vogue, and the Financial Times.
Acast hasn’t announced where it plans to expand next. Most recently it entered Canada, New Zealand, Ireland and France. Acast says its revenue doubled in 2018, ending the year with more than $20 million in total sales, mainly driven by the U.S. and U.K. markets. That growth did come at a price. Last month Acast said its costs increased 47% last year, mostly because the company took steps to develop new technology. The company says there were also “increased efforts” to become “the dominant player” in the U.S. Acast made a first-ever acquisition in April when it struck a deal to buy rival Pippa to appear to smaller podcast producers.
The European Investment Bank financing is supported by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the four-year old program that’s part of the European Commission’s post-Great Recession economic recovery plan for the Eurozone. The peculiarity of the European Investment Bank’s “quasi equity” financing is that it has the characteristics of an equity stake in the company, yet it doesn’t translate into the EIB owning shares in Acast. It means that Acast will get the cash needed to grow without it having an impact on the ownership of the company. For the government it’s seen as a way to help job growth. Acast currently employs about 150 people worldwide.
“Everyone loves a good podcast, but it can be hard to make a living off of this type of infotainment,” said EIB Vice-President Alexander Stubb in a statement. “I think it’s important that a European provider for this type of service exists, which gives all voices the possibility to be heard. Acast truly serves as a one-stop-shop for listeners, creators and advertisers, and we’re happy to support the company in its expansion,” he added.
Founded in 2015 by Karl Rosander, Mans Ulvestam and Johan Billgren, Acast hosts more than 7,000 shows.