When radio industry veteran Rob Loewenthal was trying to work out what to name his podcasting company in 2016, he thought of his friend, the prominent investigative journalist Hedley Thomas.
“[He] always backs long shots at the races and they go ‘Whooshkaa’ down the home straight and beat the favourite,” Mr Loewenthal said. “I thought: ‘wouldn’t it be nice to have a business like one of Hedley’s horses’.”
Whooshkaa has lived up to its name. On Friday, the audio giant Spotify announced it had bought the Australian podcasting platform that hosted Thomas’ wildly successful Teacher’s Pet for the Australian newspaper among a plethora of other shows. The terms of the transaction were not made public.
It marks the first Australian acquisition for Spotify, historically a music streaming service which has embarked on a major push into podcasting over the past two years. The Swedish company, which boasts 381 million users globally and a market value of $US43 billion ($60 billion) has spent substantial sums buying up exclusive rights to top rating, but sometimes controversial podcast shows, such the boundary-pushing Joe Rogan Experience and Bill Simmons’ The Ringer.
Whooshkaa, based in Surry Hills in inner Sydney, offers something different.
In a media release, Spotify made clear that Whooshkaa’s tools for traditional radio broadcasters to turn their programming into podcasts, inserting ads and distributing it to listeners via services like Spotify, are at “the heart of the acquisition”.
Those tools will be integrated into Megaphone, another platform for podcast businesses that Spotify bought last year.
The idea is that broadcasters will have a one stop shop to turn otherwise time-limited broadcasts into enduring pieces of media that can earn money from ads sold by Spotify through its audience network, an advertisement marketplace, and be measured and tracked thereafter.
“We believe the worldwide growth potential for digital audio is still largely untapped,” said Dawn Ostroff, Spotify’s chief content and advertising officer. “Through the addition of these new tools as well as the innovative team behind them, we are reinforcing our commitment to helping creators, publishers and advertisers realise the value of this opportunity.”