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HipChat founders launch Swoot, a social podcast app

Pete Curley and Garret Heaton, who previously co-founded team chat app HipChat and sold it to Atlassian, are officially launching their new productSwoot today. The app makes it easy for users to recommend podcasts and see what their friends are listening to.
This might seem like a big leap from selling enterprise software and indeed, Curley said the company was initially focused on creating another set of team collaboration tools.
What they realized, however, was that HipChat is actually a consumer product that the company just happens to pay for, because the employees demand it and he said they werent terribly interested in trying to build a business around a more traditional top-down sales process.
Meanwhile, Curley said hed injured his back while lowering one of his children into a crib, which meant that for months, his only form of exercise was walking. He recalled walking around for hours each day and, for the first time, keeping himself entertained by listening to podcasts.
I was actually way behind the times, he said. I didnt know this, that everyone else was listening to them This is like the dark web of content.
HipChat founders launch Swoot, a social podcast app

The startup has already raised a $3 million seed funding round led by True Ventures .
Pete and Garret both have incredible product and entrepreneurial experience, plus they have built successful businesses together in the past, said True Ventures co-founder Jon Callaghan in a statement. Their focus of solving the disjointed podcast listening experience through Swoots elegant design fills a clear gap in media discovery.
Discovery namely, finding new podcasts beyond the handful that you already subscribe to is one of the biggest issues in podcasting right now. Its something a number of companies are trying to solve, but in Curleys view, the key is to make the listening experience more social.
He noted that social sharing features are getting added to literally everything, including your bathroom scale, except the one thing that I actually wanted it for.
Curley also contrasted the podcast listening experience with YouTube: We dont realize how big [podcasting] is because there is no social thing where you see that Gangnam Style has 8 billion views, and you realize that the entire world is watching. Theres no view count, no anything that tells you whats popular.
So hes trying to provide that view with Swoot. Instead of focusing on overall view counts (which might not be that impressive in a new app), Swoot gives you two main ways to track whats popular among your friends.
HipChat founders launch Swoot, a social podcast app

Theres a feed that shows you everything that your friends are listening to or recommending, plus a list of episodes that are currently trending, with little icons showing you the friends who have listened to at least 20 percent of an episode.
Curley said the team has been beta testing the app by simply releasing it on the App Store and telling friends about it, then letting it spread by word of mouth until it was in the hands of around 1,000 users. During that test, it found that 25 percent of the podcasts that users listened to were coming from friends.
Curley also noted that this approach is episode-centric and rather than show-centric. In other words, its not just helping you find the next podcast that you want to subscribe to and listen to for years it also helps surface the specific episode that everyones listening to right now.
In the 700,000 shows that exist, if youre the 690,000 worst-ranked show, but you have one great episode that should be able to go viral, thats basically impossible to do right now, because audio is crazy hard to share, Curley said.
In the course of our conversation, I brought up my experience with Spotify I like knowing whats popular, but when a friend recently mentioned specific songs that they could see Id been listening to on the service, I was a bit creeped out.
Its funny, I actually thought, how ironic that Spotify is getting into podcasting now [through the acquisitions of Gimlet and Anchor], Curley replied. They actually had this correct mechanism applied to the wrong thing. Music is a deeply personal thing.

Why Spotify is betting big on podcasting
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