Moonbeam, the technology company founded a year ago by tech entrepreneur Paul English, has been acquired by Audacy. Terms of the deal have yet to be made public, but English says the two companies are already working side-by-side. “Audacy is now working with the Moonbeam team on next-generation Audacy tools,” he said in an announcement regarding the sale.
English launched Moonbeam in June 2021 saying he wanted to combine technology and human creation to improve content discovery by leveraging a combination of machine learning technology and a team of human curators. Moonbeam has launched an app that streams selected highlights from podcasts and streams them to users through the main stream called “Beam”. If users don’t like the content, they can just swipe up. If they like it, they can listen to the whole episode, save it, share it with their friends and subscribe. These actions power Moonbeam’s algorithm, allowing it to serve the most highly curated and personalized content available.
“The most important technology we built in 2022 was an improved machine learning system based on high-quality transcriptions of tens of millions of podcast episodes,” English said. “We have developed technology that could better predict your preference based on your listening history. For example, if we notice that you have listened to a few different podcasts that mention dinosaurs, then we could recommend other similar shows.
Last September, Moonbeam said users were spend an average of 23 minutes on the app per session.
English said the deeper he got into podcasting, the more he also became interested in the relationship between podcast hosts and their listeners, after podcasting friends complained that they didn’t know enough about their listeners.
“We’ve added an innovative ‘tip’ feature that allows you to tip your favorite host with almost a click,” explained English. “And we started working on letting listeners join a mailing list for their favorite show and designing threads.”
The addition of Moonbeam technology comes two weeks after Audacy launched the first in a series of updates to its digital platform starting today, with improvements to its app and website. This is the first set of upgrades to be rolled out over several months. The podcast portion of the inaugural update involves merging radio and podcast content into the app, allowing listeners to consume the latest content from the shows they love as well as the topics they care about.
The deal is the latest for Audacy, which previously reached a $22.5 million deal last year to buy Podcorn, which operates a marketplace that connects advertisers with podcasters to create native advertising and branded content. Audacy made two deals earlier spend $48 million to buy podcast creators Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios in 2019.
It’s unclear if Moonbeam will continue as a standalone app. Interestingly, English says the name was inspired by his friend and mentor, Professor Youngme Moon of Harvard Business School, who is also the host of the Harvard After Hours podcast.