Himalaya Media launches creator-focused, innovative podcast platform, network and community
PRESS RELEASE — February 7, 2019 · 10.2 minutes to read
- Empowers Content Creators with Production, Distribution and Marketing and with New Revenue Opportunities, Including Follower Bonuses
- Engages Fans with Innovative Features Including Episodic Playlists, Creator Tipping, Sleep Timer and Subscription Importing
- Partners with the Dallas Mavericks, Starburns Industries, Studio71, Acast and Panoply Media’s Megaphone
- Announces Slate of Original and Acquired Shows to be Available Widely Across All Podcast Platforms Including the Himalaya App
- Driven by $100 Million from Investors General Atlantic, SIG and Ximalaya FM – Asia’s Leading Audio Network with 500 Million Global Listeners
San Francisco CA, USA—Himalaya Media Inc (www.himalaya.com) has today announced its launch and outlined its ambition to climb to the peak of the global podcast space. A podcast platform, audio content network and original production studio, the San Francisco-based Himalaya debuts with an extensive slate of original and partner-created content being rolled out in early 2019, a creator-focused monetization and marketing strategy, and an experienced leadership team.
The free Himalaya app includes several innovative features at launch, with more on the way, and is now available in the App Store or via Google Play.
The San Francisco-based startup has raised $100M from General Atlantic, SIG and Ximalaya FM and will use this to support the tech innovation, marketing, and content production and acquisition that are driving this launch.
Additionally, Himalaya has immediate access to unique expertise from Ximalaya FM, the top spoken audio platform in Asia, with offices in China, Japan and the U.S. Ximalaya FM is one of the world’s most successful and fastest-growing audio networks, with more than 500 million listeners, and is a pioneer in audiobooks, podcasts, and live-streaming audio.
Himalaya Media will tap into this experience, while also accounting for needs and opportunities that vary by region. For example, the company launches with a robust and experienced advertising sales team, one-of-a-kind monetization opportunities like “tipping” and “follower bonuses,” and additional features tailored to the U.S. market.
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS AND EARLY 2019 PROGRAMMING SLATE
The Himalaya Podcast Network will feature a mix of new original programming created through Himalaya’s internal development team and existing shows from leading producers, with a wide array of content spanning all genres. Himalaya’s team will focus on promotion, marketing and ad sales for both originals and partner shows.
Shows in the network will often be available exclusively with 24-hour “Early Access” on the Himalaya app, driving awareness and usage of the platform. In order to reach the broadest possible audience, these shows will then be available both on the Himalaya app and widely across all podcast platforms. Some shows will also be available in video format on YouTube.
Dallas Mavericks – Himalaya is the official podcast app of the NBA franchise, while also acting as an exclusive creative and distribution partner in the U.S. for all of its existing podcasts, and even a few separate new shows including one with Mavs rookie phenom Luka Dončić and another with NBA ChampionHarrison Barnes.
Starburns Industries – Himalaya is entering into an exciting new partnership with Starburns Audio, the audio branch of the production studio behind Rick and Morty, HBO’s Animals, and the Academy Award-nominated Anomalisa. In addition to bringing its bevy of existing podcasts to the network, includingHarmontown (hosted by Dan Harmon, Jeff Davis and Spencer Crittenden), Dumb People Town (Daniel Van Kirk, Randy Sklar and Jason Sklar), Small Doses (Amanda Seales) and We’re No Doctors (Steve Agee and Busy Philipps), Starburns will collaborate with Himalaya to release several original audio shows, while creating new cross-promotional opportunities for all of the above.
Studio71 – Himalaya will co-create a slate of new original shows with Studio71 through an upcoming partnership with the leading digital video network and content studio. Additionally, Himalaya’s ad sales team will work closely with Studio71 to connect brands with these shows.
Additional Existing Shows Joining the Himalaya Podcast Network
Dexter Guff is Smarter Than You – A cult classic after one season, this self-help parody podcast from Kelly & Kelly Creative (This Sounds Serious) originally debuted in collaboration with Panoply, and will now relaunch as one of Himalaya’s marquee weekly shows.
Done Disappeared – The original true crime parody podcast that takes on real hit podcasts, their sponsors and their hosts in SNL style takedowns. First and foremost a spoof of the hit podcast Up and Vanished, Done Disappeared follows John David Booter, a filmmaker who has never made a podcast (or a film), as he investigates strange cold cases and attempts to keep rival podcasts (like My Dearest Disappearance, True Crime Dump Truck and Shovel and Pale) from closing in on his territory. A word of mouth hit, Done Disappeared has been featured on multiple “Best Of” lists and has developed a loyal following that takes Booter’s harrowing mysteries as seriously as he does.
The Box of Oddities – A biweekly podcast hosted by married couple Katrina Walls (Kat) and Jethro Gilligan Toth. In each episode, the couple surprises each other and their audience with stories of the strange, the bizarre, and the unexpected. Although Box of Oddities is only a few months old, Kat and Jethro have built such a rabid fanbase that they’re debuting their first live show to a sold out audience at Zanies Comedy Night Club in Nashville on February 27th.
Himalaya Originals – Early 2019
Hugh Acheson Stirs the Pot – A weekly talk-format podcast from Himalaya Media, in which Atlanta-based celebrity chef Hugh Acheson sits down with food personalities, entertainers and activists in restaurants across the country to talk about what they’re eating and what’s eating them. Topics include food, travel, politics, business and personal experiences.
It’s Not About the Podcast with James Kennedy – A Los Angeles-based DJ, producer, promoter and a star of the hit Bravo show, Vanderpump Rules, James Kennedy welcomes guests every week to have a few drinks and share exclusive new music tracks, show off their freestyle skills, test their knowledge of outer space and much more. It’s Not About the Podcast… it’s about everything else!
New Rockstars – This weekly entertainment roundtable will be available as both a podcast and on the New Rockstars YouTube channel, which has nearly two million subscribers. It will cover popular TV shows and movies from Game of Thrones and Stranger Things to the latest Star Wars and Marvel Studios releases.
No Chill Podcast – As one of the most unique and dynamic characters basketball has ever seen, the No Chill Podcast unleashes Agent Zero as Gilbert Arenas offers up his truly unique perspective on all things basketball, pop culture and whatever else is on his mind. Along with co-host Mike Botticello, Gil chops it up with hoopers, comedians and other personalities, all with…no chill.
OZY Confidential – Part rant-o-riffic cross talk from the edge, part no-holds-barred delving into the dark stuff often left unsaid, complete with a soundtrack to die for, OZY Confidential is a SXSW for people, personalities and weirdly wild notions about what we reveal and what we most want to conceal. OZY’s Editor-at-Large Eugene S. Robinson gets heavy, deep and real with everyone from a world-renowned Nietzsche scholar who left behind a Ph.D. for life as a crack whore, to Boston Irish Mafia’s Kevin Weeks. Chaotic and raw, on OZY Confidential, the form fits the function.
Additional Industry Partnerships
At launch, Himalaya has partnered with:
Acast – To optimize creator content monetization, Himalaya has selected Acast as one of its global technology partners. Acast’s world-class technology, advertising solutions, and hosting and distribution are well-suited for Himalaya’s goals, and Acast’s tools will be available to all of Himalaya’s podcasts.
Panoply Media – Himalaya has partnered with Panoply Media’s Megaphone to bring cutting edge hosting, dynamic ad-insertion, and audience analytics to creators in the Himalaya Podcast Network. Creators will also be able to leverage Megaphone’s unique monetization opportunities to supplement direct sales and help maximize profits.
Unique features available at launch to optimize engagement on the Himalaya platform include:
Episodic Playlists – The ability to build playlists and share them with friends and family by episode rather than by series. Creators and listeners can curate and share their recommendations with the Himalaya community as well as via social media, in order to increase content discovery, regardless of size or popularity of the particular show.
Creator Tipping – The ability for fans to contribute to their favorite podcasts directly within the platform. This, along with other features such as like and comment on individual episodes – and more coming soon – will build the community while allowing creators and fans to connect and engage without leaving the Himalaya app.
Sleep Timer – Allows listeners to fall asleep to their favorite podcasts.
Subscription Importing – The ability to easily keep all subscribed podcasts, through a simple transition, from legacy podcast players to Himalaya.
Additional features – focused on personalization, gamification and monetization – are being developed by Himalaya’s unrivaled, 50-plus person engineering team, and will be rolled out in the coming weeks and months.
Also, along with Himalaya Originals and other content in its network, listeners using the Himalaya app will have access to more than 20 million episodes of shows that are available via open feeds, across 30-plus spoken audio categories.
Himalaya’s goal is to empower and enable all podcast creators through a focus on community building, decreasing friction points, and expanding the overall industry by maximizing revenue and audience growth opportunities.
For listeners, Himalaya makes it easier to discover content and engage with their favorite creators. For creators, Himalaya provides all the support needed to best produce, distribute, market, and monetize their content, with a significant focus on growing audiences both organically and through a number of targeted paid efforts.
“Too many podcast companies and platforms today make selfish decisions that drive greater revenues and growth … for them, but hurt overall audience growth and revenue opportunities for creators. Every single decision we have made, and will continue to make, is guided by the same question: ‘is this best for our creators and partners?,’” said Himalaya VP of Global Partnerships and Marketing, Peter Vincer.
Vincer continued, “Our strategy of being the most creator-friendly platform in this space is what will set us apart from the pack. This includes providing significant marketing and monetization support to all of our partners, big and small. We are thrilled with the response we are already getting from creators who see value in working with us, and we expect to have at least 100 shows in our network by mid-year – from scripted originals to big existing shows needing a boost – and expect to reach at least 15 million monthly impressions by the end of the year.”
The company’s CEO is Yu Wang, based in San Francisco. Before joining Himalaya, he was the cofounder and CTO of Otto Radio – a startup focused on an algorithmic approach to helping users discover podcast content. Yu earned his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science in 2014, with his studies around topic modeling and user generated content significantly contributing to the podcast recommendation algorithms utilized in the Himalaya platform.
“It’s not so easy to be a podcast creator. There are so many things to worry about: producing the show, growing the audience, and monetizing the content. It’s essential to have a platform that works together with creators to resolve their pain points,” said Wang. “Central to our success will be our commitment to building a platform where creators can actively interact with their fans, and establish their own communities for future growth and monetization. We look forward to working closely with creators as we grow.”
As CEO, he is responsible for implementing the overall vision of the company, as well as leading a seasoned team of executives. These include Ariel Liu, Himalaya’s chief operating officer, who spent the past four years as general manager and founder of the U.S. office for The ONE Smart Piano, a music learning startup backed by Sequoia Capital. Earlier in her career, she held positions ranging from product design to investment advisory and consulting for global FORTUNE 500 companies after graduating with a M.S. in Management Science from Stanford University.
Peter Vincer is VP of global partnerships and marketing, overseeing all content, marketing, sales and partnerships at the company. He joined Himalaya after holding a similar position at Castbox, which he helped grow to one of the biggest podcast platforms today. This includes status as one of the Google Play store’s fan favorites in 2018, alongside YouTube, Reddit and Tinder.
Antra Picard is VP of global sales, following nearly three years at consultancy Audience Group, and several years as a senior executive specializing in digital and programmatic ad sales. Based in New York, she will initially lead a four-person team of sales and support staff whose recent experience includes working for podcast ad marketplace CastPlus.
Jordan Harbinger, one of the world’s most popular podcast hosts, is a strategic advisor to the company. He has hosted a top 50 iTunes podcast for more than 12 years, and The Jordan Harbinger Show was awarded Apple’s “Best of 2018” as one of the most downloaded shows of the year, with more than 4.5 million downloads per month.
About Himalaya Media Inc.
Himalaya Media (www.himalaya.com) is an innovative podcast platform, audio content network and original production studio. Headquartered in San Francisco with offices in New York and Dallas, the company’s mission is to build a community that empowers both creators and consumers. The free Himalaya app enables listeners to easily discover content on demand and engage with their favorite creators, via mobile devices. The Himalaya Podcast Network provides creators with production, distribution, marketing, promotion and monetization that supports their content and grows its audience. The company also produces Himalaya Originals, shows that are available on its app as well as all other podcast platforms.
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