Podz turns podcasts into a personalized audio newsfeed

Podz is the latest startup trying to solve the problem of podcast discovery, with backing from investors like M13, Katie Couric and Paris Hilton.

“Even though podcasts have gained a lot of momentum — there are 100 million folks in the U.S. who listen to podcasts — we still haven’t seen that crossover behavior, where audio becomes a part of everyday lives,” CEO Doug Imbruce argued. “We think that’s because the experience of discovering and consuming podcasts is ancient. It literally feels like browsing the web in 1997.”

Imbruce’s name may be familiar to longtime TechCrunch readers, as he was previously the chief executive at Qwiki, which won the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2010 (Cloudflare was one of the runners up), then acquired by Yahoo a few years later.

By Imbruce’s own admission, Qwiki never quite lived up to his hopes for remaking online media consumption, but he said that its vision of “machine-created media” offered “a taste of the future” — a future that he’s hoping to help usher in with Podz.

The problem the startup aims to solve is pretty straightforward. Because podcasts often consist of 30 or 60 minutes or more of spoken-word audio, they’re difficult to browse, and when you discover new ones, it’s usually through word-of-mouth recommendations or clunky search tools.

While tools like Headliner make it easier for podcasters to promote their content with short clips on social media, Podz automates that creation process and makes those clips the centerpiece of the (Read more...)