×

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.

More Digital

  • FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone,

    SAG-AFTRA Warns Members About FaceApp Terms of Use

    SAG-AFTRA is warning its 160,000 members about the “overreaching and invasive” terms of use for the FaceApp mobile application. FaceApp, developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, uses neural network technology to automatically generate transformations of faces in photographs. The app can be used to make users appear older, younger, or change gender. The terms include [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • Billie Eilish

    ARRI, Mobile TV Group Back New Venture Revitalizing Streamed Concerts

    A new venture looking to bring a fresh approach to live-streaming concerts has gotten the backing of hardware heavyweights ARRI and Mobile TV Group. Wide+Close is launching with the mandate of shooting music performances with film cameras and cinematographers in order to give the content a more cinematic feel. “We want to take concert filming [...]

  • Fortnite Battle Royale

    How 'Fortnite' Fans Can Earn Loot by Watching YouTube Videos

    Epic Games and YouTube have teamed up with a special offer for “Fortnite” players — giving players of the popular battle-royale game rewards when they watch “Fortnite”-premiered content on the video platform. The catch: You have to watch at least 20 minutes of “Fortnite” special content or live esports broadcasts to receive the loot. Under [...]

  • Roku headquarters

    Roku Plans to Expand to Brazil, Other Countries (EXCLUSIVE)

    Roku plans to expand to multiple new territories in the coming months, Variety has learned. One of the first new markets for the company will likely be Brazil. An international expansion could help Roku grow its customer base, which in turn should lead to growing advertising revenues. Roku executives have been hinting at plans to [...]

  • Google Stadia Pro to Include 1

    Google’s Stadia Game Streaming Service to Include Free Monthly Game

    Google has been busy sharing additional details about its upcoming game streaming service Stadia, clearing up some confusion in the process. Stadia’s pro subscription tier, which will cost $10 per month, won’t be a Netflix-type subscription service. However, subscribers will get free games at the rate of about a title per month. That’s according to [...]

  • Crypt-TV-Facebook

    Facebook Signs Deal With Crypt TV for Slate of Five Horror Series

    Crypt TV, the digital studio founded by Eli Roth and Jack Davis and backed by Jason Blum, expanded its deal with Facebook, inking a content partnership to create a slate of five horror and monster-themed series exclusively for Facebook Watch. For Facebook Watch, it’s one of the first deals for a full slate of content [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content