The podcast listening platform Himalaya Media is splitting with its content develop arm HiStudios. The move will create two standalone media entities that the companies say will allow them both to grow according to their own strategic priorities.
“Charting separate trajectories will allow both companies to better connect with their audiences and drive revenue based on their respective vertical focuses,” said Himalaya CEO Wang Yu. “Himalaya will continue to support podcast creators by offering monetization opportunities via our premium platform.” The San Francisco-based Himalaya that’s relied on a freemium business model – offering some content for free with ads and other ad-free content only for subscribers –will also pivot its production focus toward developing audio education content, including shows on history, literature, psychology, business, career development, communication, problem-solving and wellness.
That content shift is more in line with the direction its Chinese-based owners have found success in Asia. Himalaya’s lead investor, Ximalaya FM, is China’s largest spoken-word audio platform with more than 600 million users.
Los Angeles-based HiStudios was spun out of its parent company last August with plans to create podcasts featuring sports celebrities and other cultural influencers. The division has about a dozen staffers and is led by CEO Peter Vincer, who had been VP of Partnerships at Himalaya until the split. “We thank Wang Yu and the team at Himalaya Media in supporting our unique vision at launch and we look forward to continuing to reshape a new era of news,” said Vincer in a statement.
As part of the separation, HiStudios will rebrand itself as Notorious.
Himalaya Media launched in February 2019 with what was said to be $100 million in investment capital from General Atlantic, SIG and Ximalaya FM, although reports surfaced last September that the company overstated its cash reserves by tenfold. Axios reported General Atlantic, a New York-based private equity firm with a portfolio filled with tech companies, never actually put any money into Himalaya. Instead, a General Atlantic rep said they made an investment in Ximalaya FM.