Fireside, the content platform backed in part by billionaire Mark Cuban, has reportedly raised money from NFL stars Larry Fitzgerald and Kelvin Beachum, former NBA star Baron Davis, and the music group The Chainsmokers. Fireside is aiming to raise as much as $10 million in the seed round, and in addition to those well-known investors, TechCrunchreports Cuban is also putting more of its own money into the venture. “I love what we are doing. So yes I continue to invest,” he said.
Other investors include HBSE, Goodwater, Animal Capital, Precursor Ventures, Chris Voss and Sujay Jaswa, although the round has not been finalized and that list could change. TechCrunch notes that investing in an uncapped valuation round allows participants to buy equity in a startup at a discounted valuation in the next round.
Fireside has been in private beta for the past several months and has already attracted hundreds of creators and claims audience reach of more than 100 million. It aims to work with podcasters to go beyond being a place where live audio chats are recorded and distributed.
Fireside has teamed with the podcast hosting company Libsyn to sell its advertising as well as distribute any of the live shows that are turned into a podcast. And an open RSS-based distribution will ensure that any podcast is widely available across a spectrum of listening apps with the push of a button.
The app has drawn comparisons to live audio apps like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces by allowing creators to create live interactive shows that can be distributed on their own websites and social media, as well as on social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch. But unlike the other live audio apps, Fireside will record the shows and make them available for on-demand listening. To lure creators it has also offered a wider variety of analytics. It says it will show what content is most interesting to their audience, and allow producers to quickly edit the content before distributing publicly. To monetize the content, Fireside says it will embrace dynamic ad insertion into the podcast recordings, as well as other monetization options such as selling tickets and allowing producers to create non-fungible tokens (NFTs) from their content.
Despite its outreach to podcasters, Fireside has had an initial chilly response from many in the industry after Cuban and CEO Falon Fatemi rolled out their new product at Podcast Movement with a pitch that rubbed many the wrong way as Cuban called the current podcast distribution “old, tired and beat up.”
Currently, Fireside is available on all iOS devices and shows can be consumed through a browser with plans for Android in the near future.