Vurbl Raises $1.3 Million to Build the Youtube of Audio
Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior reporter, covering venture capital. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks. Follow him on Twitter.
With an ambitious goal to building the Youtube of audio, Los Angeles-based Vurbl announced Monday it has closed its $1.3 million pre-seed round with lead investor AlphaEdison with participation from Halogen Ventures and Ten13. The funds will be used to launch a platform later this year with millions of pieces of audio and podcasts.
"We know how user generated content works, we know how social and SEO work, we know how digital advertising work, and most importantly, we keenly understand the particular way you must stitch them all together to make a great UX for listeners, creators AND advertisers," founder and CEO Audra Gold wrote in an email to dot.LA.
As opposed to audio streaming companies such as Spotify and Luminary which have spent millions acquiring shows, Vurbl plans to differentiate itself by providing mostly cheaper user-generated content. It says it will also be the first scaled open market, realtime programmatic audio ad platform, doing for audio what has been so lucrative for video on Youtube.
"Because of this, Vurbl is poised to revolutionize the world of digital audio advertising," Gold said.
Gold previously founded Product N, a product management consulting and recruitment firm, and led product teams at Rubicon Project, The Mighty, Pluto TV, Fourthwall Studios and Defy Media (formerly Break Media). She also held senior product roles at WeddingChannel/TheKnot, Viviendi Universal's online division, and IGN.com.Apple owns the dominant podcasting platform even though audio is low on its list of priorities. Spotify has been on a spending spree to acquire more big name podcasts like Joe Rogan. Luminary raised more than $160 million to fund a subscription model with a hefty marketing budget but has burned through cash and struggled to attract subscribers.
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Minutes into filling out my absentee ballot last week, I was momentarily distracted by my dog Seamus. A moment later, I realized in horror that I was filling in the wrong bubble — accidentally voting "no" on a ballot measure that I meant to vote "yes" on.
It was only a few ink marks, but it was noticeable enough. Trying to fix my mistake, I darkly and fully filled in the correct circle and then, as if testifying to an error on a check, put my initials next to the one I wanted.
Then I worried. As a reporter who has previously covered election security for years, I went on a mini-quest trying to understand how a small mistake can have larger repercussions.
As Los Angeles County's 5.6 million registered voters all receive ballots at home for the first time, I knew my experience could not be unique. But I wondered, would my vote count? Or would my entire ballot now be discarded?
My distractingly sweet dog, Seamus.
Photo by Tami Abdollah
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