Podcast app

Pocket Casts Podcast App Owns Again


Pocket Casts is one of the most popular podcast apps on Android and iOS, with a history stretching back several years. However, Pocket Casts eventually had to find a way to make enough money to support the ever-increasing development costs – or find a new owner willing to pay the bills. The app was bought by a consortium of public radio groups in 2018, but only three years later the group was looking to sell Pocket Casts. Now the app has been bought by Automattic, the best known company for WordPress.com and Gravatar.

Automattic announced on July 16 that it had acquired the parent company of Pocket Casts. App co-founders Russell Ivanovic and Philip Simpson will continue to lead development. Automattic said in its blog post: “As part of Automattic, Pocket Casts will continue to provide you with the features you need to enjoy your favorite podcasts (or find something new). We’ll explore building deep integrations with WordPress.com and Pocket Casts, making it easier to distribute and listen to podcasts.

Pocket Casts was previously purchased in 2018 by a group of public radio organizations, including NPR, This American Life, WNYC Studios and WBEZ Chicago. About a year later, Pocket Casts became a free app and introduced an optional paid subscription with 10GB of cloud storage for audio content and desktop / web apps. In December 2020, the radio group decided to sell Pocket Casts by September 30, 2021.

The new owner of Pocket Casts is Automattic, an American internet company known for its blogging service WordPress.com (Automattic also contributes code for the self-hosted version of WordPress), Gravatar cross-site avatars, and several popular WordPress plugins. The company recently made a spate of purchases – Automattic also bought Tumblr from Verizon in 2019 and acquired the Day One newspaper app last month.

Automattic isn’t planning any drastic changes for Pocket Casts just yet, at least publicly. The company’s existing revenue streams (and its status as a private company instead of a publicly traded entity with many investors) mean Automtic shouldn’t need to take every penny it can from Pocket Casts users. However, the app will likely need to experiment with more premium features – NPR alone lost $ 800,000 on Pocket Casts while owning 34.6% of the app in 2020.