5/31/13: TuneIn funding possible IPO precursor, "good sign for radio" regardless, say observers

Paul Maloney
May 31, 2013 - 12:35pm

Earlier this week came news of a milestone listening mark, $25 million in new capital, and a new CFO for TuneIn, the Internet radio tuning and aggregation service and makers of one of Net radio's most popular mobile apps (our coverage is here).

The San Jose Mercury News points out (here) one of the investors is Google Ventures. That Google, the one that just launched their own streaming music service (more here). That new CFO, Axel Martinez, by the way, is from Google. Martinez was Google's assistant treasurer and took part in managing Google's investments.

The Mercury News also suggests that hiring a CFO can be taken as a sign of a company's intention to go public. Institutional Venture Partners, which led the funding, calls it a "late stage" fund "that typically invests in a company once it's closer to a potential IPO," the paper wrote.

Whether TuneIn becomes the field's second public Internet radio company (after Pandora), columnist Glenn Peoples at Billboard says the investment is a "good sign for radio" and "confirms the appeal of traditional radio while bolstering the notion the traditional radio market is ripe for disruption."

The service announced listeners had streamed over a billion hours of content in the year's first four months. While TuneIn (and Pandora, for that matter) still represents just a sliver of worldwide radio listening, these figures "are clear evidence that consumers enjoy radio in an easy-to-use mobile app or web-based service," Peoples wrote. "Investors should continue to put money into the Internet radio space because so much potential exists."

Mentioning Apple's anticipated entry into Internet radio as a possibility, he concludes, "A huge, global market is just waiting to be disrupted by companies that focus only on Internet radio." Read more in Billboard here.

Paul Maloney
May 31, 2013 - 12:35pm

Earlier this month The New York Times launched Press Play, an interactive music discovery section on its website the premieres new music chosen by editors, streaming albums set to be released that week. It's an interesting offering for a traditional media outlet via its digital presence -- and demonstrates the power of a curated music experience.

Poynter.org brings up the obvious parallel to NPR Music's "First Listen" feature.

"We are getting offered plenty, as you can imagine," Jeremy Egner, a senior staff editor on the Times' culture desk, told Poynter. "We're not having death matches with NPR people over this record or that."

Read more in Poynter.org here.

Paul Maloney
May 31, 2013 - 12:35pm

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is launching a "crowdsourced" campaign to invalidate the claims of a so-called "patent troll's" of ownership of podcasting technology.

The company in question, Personal Audio, "is the classic example of a patent troll that neither makes nor sells anything, but uses its patent as a weapon to threaten lawsuits and extort settlement fees," the EFF said today. It says it will prove Personal Audio hasn't invented anything new.

EFF has partnered with the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and will use a legal tool called "inter partes review." The partners are hoping to find "prior art" -- examples of what Personal Audio is claiming as intellectual property that existed before the patent -- by making a pubic call for any evidence.

Personal Audio has approached the popular "How Stuff Works" podcast and podcaster Adam Carolla for licensing.

Paul Maloney
May 31, 2013 - 12:35pm

Radio Ink has just wrapped up its first annual Online Radio Summit in Austin, co-presented by consultant Roy Williams' nontraditional business school Wizard Academy.

Radio Ink says the event was "designed to help advertisers understand the online radio climate and its impact on radio advertising."

The conference included presentations from Williams and Radio Ink publisher Eric Rhoads, Pandora, and one of the leading independent webcasters, Idobi.