What Does "Big Money Podcasting" Look Like?
I cooked up something different for today’s issue: a visual representation of what diversity looks like at the executive and deal-making level in “Big Podcasting.” It’s a peek at who has benefitted from the industry’s consolidation era (which now appears to be slowing), and who has a current seat at the table when strategic decisions are being made.
I first thought of doing something like this after my umpteenth visit to the “Who Owns Who in Podcasting” webpage, which helps many of us keep track of the rapidly evolving audio industry. Its detailed listing of acquisitions provided a helpful framework for me in formulating this issue. Thanks to Evo Terra and Anne Baird who created the page and faithfully keep it up-to-date!
Many thanks also to Richard Rushfield, the founder of Hollywood insiders’ newsletter The Ankler; his “Class Photos” issue blew me away and inspired me to try and formulate something similar for podcasting. (Hey Richard, please don’t sue me for using the same title!)
This was a messy project and it’s extremely imperfect. Here are my caveats:
For each top acquirer I included as many pictures of their current leadership as I could, and did the same for executives lower down in the hierarchy who appear to have deal-making power. However, those in the latter category were particularly challenging to identify and sometimes it seemed safer to nix their pictures altogether. To quote directly from Richard Rushfield’s version: “These [companies] tend not to have accessible org charts below the corporate ranks and untangling the overlapping arms and trying to sort out who is ‘leadership’ is nearly impossible. As is finding photos.” (And to that last point, there were even a few key execs and founders for whom I could not find photos anywhere.)
Below each acquirer’s corporate photo gallery, I included founders and CEOs from the acquired companies, which I’ve lumped together, mostly as a space-saving measure. In some cases, I stumbled across old org charts, which I decided to share as well. Keep in mind, though, that not everyone on those out-of-date composites stood to benefit financially from their employer’s acquisition.
As much as this not a definitive list, it’s also not a personal indictment of any of the people pictured below. My goal here is to paint a broad picture of what things look like, rather than get stuck on specifics. With that in mind, after scrolling through the pictures, please don’t bother letting me know that so-and-so should or shouldn’t have been on this list, because that’s not really the point.
Seven companies are included in this issue: Amazon, Apple, Audacy, Spotify, iHeart, SiriusXM, and Acast. This felt like enough, but if you’re desperate for me to render a second batch, hit reply and let me know.
Obviously, this gallery doesn’t take into account the many types of diversity you can’t see. Please keep that in mind as you scroll through the gallery.
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Okay, let’s hit it.
SiriusXM Acquisitions: Stitcher, Midroll, Pandora, Earwolf, Team Coco, AdsWizz, Simplecast, 99% Invisible
iHeart Acquisitions: Omny Studios, Spreaker, Stuff Media, Triton Digital, Voxnest
Spotify Acquisitions: Gimlet, The Ringer, Anchor, Chartable, Megaphone, Parcast, Podsights, Podz, Whooshkaa
Apple Acquisitions: Scout.FM, Pop Up Archive
Amazon Acquisitions: Art19, Audible, Wondery, Smartless
Acast Acquisitions: Pippa, Podcharts, Podrover, Podchaser, RadioPublic
Audacy Acquisitions: Cadence13, Pineapple Street Media, Moonbeam, Podcorn
A few final notes before I let you go:
Some of you may be thinking Skye, I didn’t need to see these pictures to know that there is a lack of diversity at the top of Big Podcasting. I think that’s a legitimate response! However, for me, seeing it with my own eyes is more powerful than “knowing” it. I hope that that is true for others as well.
If you think this issue was useful in some way — or even if you didn’t — I want to know! Please hit reply on this email and drop your thoughts on me.
That’s it for me this week!
See you next Thursday,