Acast has closed a Series C investment round, bringing in $33m (£26m) to fuel the podcast marketplace’s growth in the US and internationally. The round was led by AP1, which manages part of the capital in Sweden’s national income pension system, as well as Swedbank Robur funds Ny Teknik and Fokus Fund, which also invested in the Series B round. The round brings Acast’s total funding raised to date to $67m.
Founded in 2014, Acast has focused on advancing technology for advertising in the podcast industry, helping to develop dynamic ad insertion and, in the past year, cutting-edge voice activated technologies for smart speakers. The company has also worked on the exclusive in-car podcast app for Ford, and has developed voice-powered software for both the Alexa and Google Assistant ecosystems.
In 2018, Acast grew to 3,300 hosted shows, adding creators like the BBC, ITV, Gary Linekar & Danny Baker, Deliciously Ella and Mark Kermode to its roster of talent. It established a partnership with Spotify to bring its podcasts to the platform’s 180m listeners, and worked with global brands including Netflix, Kraft, Land Rover and Airbnb to reach its highly engaged audience.
“This has been the biggest year in our short history as a company,” said Ross Adams, CEO of Acast. “In 2018 alone, Acast has grown by 86 per cent, breaking all our records. Working with respected investors like AP1 and Robur on realising our new mission is a huge vote of confidence. The team at Acast has worked very hard and we will use this funding round to continue pushing the podcast industry forward, making it more mainstream and accessible.”
The Series C funding will be used to accelerate its growth in regions like the US, which is already Acast’s fastest-growing market, representing 25 per cent of all listens on the platform. It will also aim to expand to new international territories, having added service in Ireland and New Zealand over the course of 2018.
“We are very proud and excited at Swedbank Robur to support Acast with our second round of investments in the company,” said Henrik Carlman and Johan Strand, fund managers of Ny Teknik and Fokus Fund. “Acast’s strong growth and improving profitability represents a great opportunity for our fund’s unit holders to participate in this form of value creation. The cluster of companies in Stockholm, Sweden that are creating digital consumer businesses are unique and keep on producing great companies over and over again. We believe podcasts will be one of the most important media in the future and Acast is creating the world’s largest technology platform and hub for the industry.”