First Contact

Laurie Segall has been covering the tech industry for CNN for the last decade. Now she’s forming her own media venture and its first move is to launch a podcast. The tech-focused First Contact will be a co-production between Segall’s Dot Dot Dot and the iHeartPodcast Network.

“First Contact will give you what I like to call dinner table access to tech leaders how I see them, behind the scenes, human –we’ll have nuanced and sometimes emotional conversations about us humans and technology. And we’ll tackle ethical issues of the future because, let’s be honest, things got complicated quickly,” said Segall on the show’s introduction. “First Contact will bring you rare access to the billionaires and also the people on the fringes, the ones that you may call weird but I call the future.”

One upcoming episode of First Contact includes a conversation with Justin McLeod, the founder of the popular dating app Hinge, who discusses his experience with addiction, depression and his own modern love story. Another episode includes a conversation with Brian Acton, a co-founder of WhatsApp, to talk about why he walked away from more than $850 million from Facebook and why he’s betting that privacy is the future.

Segall has been immersed in Silicon Valley for years as the former CNN Senior Tech correspondent. After leaving the news channel last February she partnered with media executive Derek Dodge to create Dot Dot Dot. Variety reports Podfund is also among the investors in the company. Nicola Korzenko, general manager of Podfund, said they were attracted to Dot Dot Dot by its audio-first strategy that will result in other podcast releases. “There are other docuseries and probably lots more to come,” she told Variety.

Podfund launched in early May, offering to provide podcasters with tens of thousands of dollars in funding. It’s not a grant program. Instead, in return for the money, a podcaster accepting the funding must agree to a revenue share agreement that will see Podfund receive 7%-15% of revenue for the first three to five years, depending on the show’s traction, ad revenues and projected growth. And in the event the company that is producing the show is ultimately sold, Podfund would receive 1% of the total purchase price.

Kindred Media, the media unit of investment firm LionTree Partners, has also reportedly invested in Dot Dot Dot.