Kayak Founder’s Next Piece: A Way to Discover New Podcasts


There are many high quality podcasts out there, maybe too many. But Boston entrepreneur Paul English, co-founder of the popular travel site Kayak, think he has the solution to find the ones you’ll want to listen to: an app called Moon Beam which works like speed-dating for podcasts.

Moonbeam, which launched this summer, allows smartphone users to quickly sample audio clips from hundreds of popular podcasts with the simple swipe of a finger.

“I have to admit it was based in part on the app TIC Tac“said English, who is also chief technology officer of Lola.com, a Boston-based company that makes travel and budget management software for businesses.

After installing Moonbeam, the user can choose from a multitude of topics including science, politics, history, comedy, religion, and crime. The application will display logo for each podcast and start reading a clip from a recent episode.

“We give you the best two minutes of every show,” English said. “If you don’t like it, swipe up.” Instantly, a new podcast appears and a sample begins playing.

Touching the logo brings up a list of episodes along with detailed information about the podcast. A user can subscribe and share information about the podcast with friends online. There is also an option to send a donation to podcast creators. A pending Moonbeam upgrade will add support for newsgroups and mailing lists dedicated to a listener’s favorite shows.

English said Moonbeam plans to make money by posting video ads and collecting fees from podcasters.

A startup called Podz developed a similar app last year. Podz used artificial intelligence to figure out the most interesting moments in a podcast and automatically turn them into one-minute video clips. English favors human contact. Moonbeam hires people to listen to podcasts and create the most engaging clips.

Podz caught the attention of music streaming giant Spotify, which acquired the company in June. Podz technology could prove useful for Spotify, which offers hundreds of podcasts and spends millions to develop exclusive audio content.

Once Moonbeam gains a large user base, English plans to use machine learning to track the tastes and interests of each listener. Just like TikTok monitors which videos you watch and which ones you skip, Moonbeam will remember which podcasts you listen to and bring more to you.

Podcasts have grown in popularity. The research firm eMarketer estimates that they will generate $ 1 billion in advertising revenue in the United States this year and $ 2 billion by 2023.

Larry Rosin, president of Edison Research in Somerville, NJ, said it would be difficult for Moonbeam to find a niche in a market that has caught the attention of companies like Spotify, Apple and Google.

But given the huge sums of money pouring into the industry, he said, “I could see why someone would take such a swing.”


Hiawatha Bray can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @GlobeTechLab.



Comments are closed.