×

Podcast Platform Himalaya Raises $100 Million, Launches Apps With Tipping Function

San Francisco-based podcasting startup Himalaya Media has raised $100 million in funding to establish itself as a new force in the podcast distribution space. The company has launched apps for Android and iOS, and is getting ready to roll out a series of exclusive shows.

Himalaya’s main investor is Ximalaya, China’s biggest spoken word audio platform. Other investors include General Atlantic and SIG. Himalaya has also struck content partnerships with the Dallas Mavericks, Starburns Industries and Studio71.

Some of the original shows scheduled to debut on the platform include a podcast by “Vanderpump Rules” star James Kennedy, a weekly food podcast hosted by Atlanta-based celebrity chef Hugh Acheson and a show starring OZY’s editor-at-large Eugene S. Robinson. Himalaya is also working on a podcast from Mavericks player Luka Doncic.

Himalaya is distributing these shows via its website as well as Android and iOS apps, which also offer access to a catalog of some 20 million syndicated podcast episodes. “Himalaya seeks to be the cleanest, most intuitive app that also does the most for its partners and the community, said the company’s vice president of global partnerships and marketing Peter Vincer.

News of Himalaya’s launch comes just as Spotify is doubling down on podcasts: Earlier on Wednesday, the streaming music service announced that it has acquired podcast studio Gimlet Media and podcast monetization startup Anchor.

One of the differentiators that Himalaya wants to use to attract podcasters to its platform is a tipping feature that allows fans to support their favorite shows with micro-payments.

Over time, Himalaya is also looking to add paid content to its app. “The U.S. market has shown that it can support paid content and other large international markets have developed models even stronger in premium,” Vincer said. “We see potential in the future to add greater in-app premium capabilities, and we are strategically planning for this future.”

One service Himalaya may take inspiration from for such premium content plans is Ximalaya FM. Run by Himalaya’s biggest investor, Ximalaya FM has become the largest spoken word audio sharing service in China, with a self-reported 400 million app downloads.

The two companies appear closely linked, but Vincer was quick to declare independence when asked about the relationship between the two companies this week. “We have access to the expertise and resources of Ximalaya, but are lucky and thankful to operate with an independent vision and unique goals,” he said.

Setting up Himalaya as an independent entity may have been a strategic decision in light of the current tension between the U.S. and China, as well as the constraints a spoken word platform operates under in that country. The setup also helps to ensure that Himalaya isn’t associated with some of Ximalaya’s more peculiar efforts: Last year, the Chinese company launched a dedicated version of its smart speaker for members of the Chinese communist party.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    AT&T's Ad-Tech Unit Xandr Buys Clypd To Help Place TV Commercials More Precisely

    Xandr, the AT&T ad-technology unit, has purchased a new company that helps advertisers use data to place commercials in front of the audiences most likely to want to watch them The AT&T division said Friday it had acquired clypd, a company that helps advertisers move forward in a growing desire by Madison Avenue to run [...]

  • AT&T Logo Building

    AT&T TV Now Price Hike Coming Next Month, Base Package to Cost $65

    AT&T is instituting a substantial price hike for its live TV streaming service AT&T TV Now: Customers who have subscribed to the service’s basic “Plus” package will see their bill go up by $15, to a total of $65 per month, starting next month. The telco has started to inform existing subscribers about the price [...]

  • Disney-Family-Movies

    Disney Family Movies SVOD Service Is Shutting Down Ahead of Disney Plus Debut

    After 11 years, Disney is pulling the plug on Disney Family Movies On Demand — with the service’s shutdown coming just days before the launch of the Mouse House’s Disney Plus. Disney Family Movies, which cost between $5-$10 per month, has been available via pay-TV providers in the U.S., including Comcast Xfinity, Charter Communications, Verizon [...]

  • Amazon Orders ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham

    Amazon Orders ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’ Soccer Doc Series

    Amazon has greenlit a new “All or Nothing” sports documentary series, this time following London-based soccer team Tottenham Hotspur. “All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur” will follow a year in the life of the team, charting the ongoing 2019-20 season. The squad made it to the final of the European Champions League last year, losing to [...]

  • Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Jeffrey Katzenberg's Quibi Picks T-Mobile as Wireless Launch Partner

    Quibi, the short-form mobile TV service founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg, announced a pact with T-Mobile to be the official telecommunications partner for its April 2020 launch. T-Mobile will be the exclusive wireless distributor when Quibi launches next spring. However, the arrangement doesn’t mean only T-Mobile customers will be able to subscribe to Quibi: Anyone will [...]

  • Steve Kornacki

    Steve Kornacki, Chris Matthews Stand at Center of New NBC News Podcasts

    After vowing to press ahead more directly into the world of podcasts, NBC News is readying the launch of three additional audio shows centered around politics. “Article II: Inside Impeachment” will help listeners understand the impeachment process. The program, new episodes of which are slated to debut Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as people head for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content