Why Pierced Media Is Betting on Creators To Be The Next Generation of Podcast Stars

Nat Rubio-Licht
Nat Rubio-Licht is a freelance reporter with dot.LA. They previously worked at Protocol writing the Source Code newsletter and at the L.A. Business Journal covering tech and aerospace. They can be reached at nat@dot.la.
Why Pierced Media Is Betting on Creators To Be The Next Generation of Podcast Stars
Evan Xie

It’s no secret that men dominate the podcasting industry. Even as women continue to grow their foothold, men still make up many of the highest-earning podcasts, raking in massive paychecks from ad revenue and striking deals with streaming platforms worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

But a new demographic is changing that narrative: Gen-Z female influencers and content creators.


A growing wave of creators starting their own podcasts has begun to take charge of the industry. Building up a dedicated following on video-first platforms like TikTok and YouTube by talking to the camera about their daily lives, relationships and friendships, or advice on navigating the world as a young person, these creators often try their hand at podcasting to find out if their audiences extend to other platforms.

Pierced Media, a Gen Z-focused podcast studio that will only house podcasts hosted by women, is working to create a centralized place for these creators-turned-podcasters.

Launched in March, the company, which Katyal said is currently distributed but plans to set up its headquarters and recording studio in West Hollywood this summer, will debut seven shows by 10 creators this spring, with both audio and video podcasts discussing topics like fashion, beauty and relationships.

At the Pierced Media launch party in early March, hosted at a sleek mansion in the hills of Bel Air, founder and CEO Shweta Katyal told me the goal of the company is to empower Gen-Z women to express themselves and connect with their audiences. “Gen-Z girls are the funniest, smartest, most entertaining people,” Katyal said. “I love strong, smart women that want to share their point of view.”

Komal Nambiar, one of Pierced Media’s first podcast hosts, said that the company’s focus on young women was a big draw to coming on board. “Especially for women of color, I feel like there needs to be more representation in the podcast world,” she told me. “(Pierced’s) initiative is to empower women in the podcast space and give women a bigger platform.”

Katyal views social media creators as a “tuning fork” for what resonates with audiences, and TikTok as the best way to find talent and “scout people who feel confident to share their opinion” that would fit well into a podcast. Pierced is banking on this as a solid recipe for success, but Katyal’s background in venture capital has influenced her to view the studio in a similar way to that of a VC’s startup portfolio.

“We're creating a portfolio of podcasts,” said Katyal. “I think one or two of them will hopefully become homerun winners that will probably support the entire platform, others I think will cover their own costs and get enough of an audience to continue, and some just won't resonate at all. Media financing and production is very similar to venture, it's just on a different scale.”

And while the industry may seem oversaturated, there is still money to be made if a podcast becomes popular. For example, a podcast episode with roughly 10,000 downloads can earn its creator up to $5,000, according to estimates from online recording studio Riverside.fm. And advertisers are pouring more money into the sector: A study published last year by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Interactive Advertising Bureau estimated that U.S. podcast ad revenue would grow to $4.2 billion in 2024.

To help its podcasters capitalize on affiliate marketing, whereby a creator receives a commission from sales or website visits that are generated through them, Katyal said Pierced Media is currently developing an AI tool that can automatically generate affiliate links based on products mentioned organically during a podcast episode. The tool will launch in beta this summer.

As for how Pierced Media’s creators plan to grow their audience, most are following the creator-to-podcaster roadmap laid out by successful influencers like Emma Chamberlain (host of Anything Goes); Hannah Berner (host of Berning in Hell); and Drew Afualo (host of The Comment Section). What these creators bring to the table over a typical podcast isn’t just the content of their discussion, but their personal brand.

“We're so used to talking to the camera, I think that's why it's so natural,” Brianna Renee Price, Pierced podcast host, told me.’ “It's different, but it's not that different.”

Before joining Pierced, the 25 year old had never thought about starting a podcast. Price, who has a following of more than 600,000 on TikTok, built her audience through short form content about her daily life, outfits, trends and unfiltered advice videos. She frequently teams up with Sahar Dahi, 23, a fellow TikTok creator with more than 4 million followers, for these kinds of videos, and felt like their social media chemistry would translate well to a longer-form podcast.

Dahi said the podcast, “You’re on Your Own Girl,” will mainly be “girl talk” for other early- to mid-20’s women, talking about everything from chaotic personal stories to advice on love, relationships and friendship.

“Your early 20s is a time where you feel like you're an adult, but you're still figuring it out,” Dahi said. “We're there to kind of help you navigate it, but we're also navigating it at the same time.”

For 19-year-old TikTok creator Komal Nambiar, when Pierced approached her about starting her own podcast, taking the opportunity felt like a no-brainer. She’s been creating content on the internet since she was 14 years old, and is now studying journalism in college in the U.K. with the hopes of becoming a TV or radio host. Starting the podcast “Before You Call Me Crazy,” felt like a great career move, she told me, as it's an opportunity to fuse her existing work as a content creator with her future goals.

“I feel like (being a content creator) will kind of give me a step up when it comes to finding an audience,” Nambiar told me. “I already have a devoted audience, and I do think I have a pretty good grasp on how to keep an audience engaged.”

In large part, having a podcast gives creators the ability to dive deeper with their audience than they otherwise could on a minute-long TikTok. But while making the jump from short-form content to hour-long podcasts might seem like a challenge, 24-year-old Becca Moore, co-host of upcoming podcast ‘The B Word’ with Brooke Schofield, said she feels the opposite will be true.

“I can only talk for three minutes on Tiktok, which drives me crazy,” Moore said. “I feel like the funniest parts of stories are the details which you can't really get into in a three minute-long video.”

While starting a podcast network from scratch has its challenges, the audience built by the Pierced podcast on other platforms may give the company a leg up in gaining listeners and sponsors in the crowded industry. “We're really bootstrapping from their existing social media audiences to pre-sell the idea,” Katyal said. “But we're telling brands that they're investing in the vision of Gen-Z women. If they want to sell to that demographic, we are the partner of choice.”

nat@dot.la

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🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  • AI.fashion, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading

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