One of the early contributors to Musical.ly, the short video app that was acquired for $ 1 billion, is making a major bet that internet radio is one of the next big trends in media.
Goodwater Capital, one of the many backers that came out big when ByteDance acquired Musical.ly last year, have teamed up with the Korean duo Softbank Ventures and KB investment invest $ 17 million in Spoon Radio in Korea. The deal is a Series B for parent company Mykoon, which operates Spoon Radio and previously unsuccessfully developed a smartphone battery-sharing service.
It’s a bit like Musical.ly, which famous rotated to karaoke app after failing to build an education service.
“We decided to create a service, now known as Spoon Radio, inspired by what gave us hope when [previous venture] ‘Plugger’ failed to take off. We wanted to create a service that allows people to truly connect and share their thoughts with others on everyday issues such as the ups and downs of personal relationships, money and work.
“Unlike Facebook and Instagram where people claim to have perfect lives, we wanted to create an accessible space for people to find and interact with influencers that they could relate to on a real and personal level via an audio format and pseudo-anonymous, ”Mykoon CEO Neil Choi told TechCrunch via email.
Choi started the business in 2013 with his co-founders Choi Hyuk jun and Hee-jae Lee, and today Spoon Radio operates much like an internet radio station.
Users can connect to talk shows or music DJs, leave comments, and make requests in real time. The service also allows users to broadcast themselves and, like the live broadcast, broadcasters – or DJs, as they are called – can monetize by receiving stickers and other virtual gifts from their audience.
Spoon Radio claims 2.5 million downloads and “tens of millions” of audio broadcasts downloaded every day. Most of that user base is in Korea, but the company said it is seeing growth in markets like Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam. In response to this growth – which Choi says is over 1,000% year over year – this funding will be used to invest in expanding the service in Southeast Asia, throughout the rest of the world. ‘Asia and beyond.
Audio social media is not a new concept.
Singapore’s Bubble Motion raised nearly $ 40 million from investors, but it was sold in a disappointing and undisclosed deal in 2014. This was apparently after the company failed to find a deal. buyer and was prepared to liquidate its assets. Altruist, the India-based mobile services company that purchased Bubble Motion has done little for the service. Most of the changes were bug fixes, and the iOS app, for example, hasn’t been updated for almost a year.
Things have changed over the past four years, with the rapid growth of smartphones in Asia and around the world. It could mean different fortunes, but there are also differences between the two in terms of strategy.
Bubbly was run as a social network – a “Twitter for the Voice” – while Spoon Radio focuses on a consumer-based model which, as the name suggests, mirrors traditional radio.
“This is consumer mobile internet at its best,” Eric Kim, one of Goodwater Capital’s two founding partners, told TechCrunch in an interview. “Spoon Radio takes an offline experience that exists in conventional radio and makes it even better. “
Kim admitted that when he first used the service he didn’t see the appeal – he claimed it was the same for Musical.ly – but said he had changed air after talking to listeners and using Spoon Radio. He said it reminded him of being a kid who grew up in the United States and eagerly listened to radio shows.
“It’s a really interesting phenomenon that’s taking off in Asia due to the growth of smartphones and people who love content but not always able to get video content. It was a clean new behavior that we had never seen before… Musical.ly was in the same range as the new net content for the next generation, we paid a lot of attention to that category, ”Kim – including other investments The company’s Koreans include chat app giant Kakao and fintech startup Toss – explained.