Spotify will roll its own rival to the buzzy Clubhouse live-audio chat app — saying it will launch a range of new live and interactive programming in the next few months.
Spotify announced the acquisition of Betty Labs, the creators of Locker Room, a live audio app focused on sports talk.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Spotify’s deal values Betty Labs at around $50 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. Founded in 2018, Betty Labs had raised $9.3 million, according to Crunchbase. Investors included Amazon’s Alexa Fund, Google Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Precursor Ventures.
Betty Labs first launched Locker Room for sports fans in October 2020. Spotify said it plans to rebrand the app (but keep it separate) to “evolve and expand” Locker Room into an enhanced live audio experience for a wider range of creators and fans, offering sports, music, and cultural programming along with interactive features that enable creators to connect with listeners in real time.
“We’ll give professional athletes, writers, musicians, songwriters, podcasters, and other global voices opportunities to host real-time discussions, debates, ask me anything (AMA) sessions, and more,” Spotify said in announcing the deal.
The reskinned Locker Room app will remain free to use, as Spotify explores various monetization approaches.
“Creators and fans have been asking for live formats on Spotify, and we’re excited that soon, we’ll make them available to hundreds of millions of listeners and millions of creators on our platform,” Gustav Söderström, Spotify’s chief R&D officer, said in a statement. “The world already turns to us for music, podcasts, and other unique audio experiences, and this new live audio experience is a powerful complement that will enhance and extend the on-demand experience we provide today.”
Betty Labs founder and CEO Howard Akumiah, who is joining Spotify, previously worked as a product manager at Pinterest and Facebook.
“With Spotify, we’ll continue to offer the best home for sports fans and use the lessons we’ve learned along the way to create the ultimate destination for live conversation around music and culture,” Akumiah said in a statement provided by the audio and music streamer.
Locker Room has landed a small niche audience so far. Since its launch in October 2020, the app has had approximately 19,000 installs globally — compared with 15.6 million for Clubhouse, according to research firm Sensor Tower.