It seems that the World Cup, the end of the year, and the apocalypse are just around the corner. Let's do a little recap of what has happened in the audio industry in the last twelve years, while the world watches football:
2014, the World Cup in Brazil was about to start, and Gimlet Media was founded. 2018, Russia World Cup in progress, and Gimlet launches her 3 new shows: The Horror of Dolores Roach, her first collaboration with The Cut, and Without Fail, a short but powerful interview show hosted by Alex Blumberg. 2022, we are 5 days away from starting the most controversial, polluting and sexist world cup in history, Alex Blumberg begins a new phase of his life, without Gimlet and without Spotify. (The relationship with football and the audio industry has ended).
Spotify recently terminated half of the original shows it acquired in 2020 from Gimlet and Parcast, and now Alex Blumberg is "leaving" Spotify, according to New York Times reporter Ben Mullin. It's not a thread, it's just a Tweet. We don't know if he quit, or he's part of the playoffs that Spotify is treating as "low profile" to avoid controversy. We don't have any more information either. But today we will do a little recap of the life (and death?) of Gimlet, and a forecast for the industry in 2023. (Includes a bright stage where we can continue listening to the wonderful work of Alex Blumberg).
Alex Blumberg is a radio journalist and media entrepreneur who changed the podcast and digital audio industry forever. Blumberg met Ira Glass through mutual friends and began working as an administrative assistant at This American Life. He saw it transform into a podcast, and he produced many of its episodes. Shortly after, in 2008, Alex Blumberg began collaborating on NPR with business correspondent Adam Davidson on a podcast called Planet Money. ring a bell?
In 2014, he founded Gilmet Media with Matthew Lieber. First they named it American Podcasting Corporation (APC) but it sounded TOO serious and corporate, and they changed the name to something cooler and classier, like the Gimlet cocktail.
Matthew, Alex and Gilmet put a major stamp on the industry: Startup. If you don't know about this wonderful project, you have to run and listen to it, because we don't know what Spotify can do with it, and it's a gem to create your own podcast startup. Alex and Matthew dedicated themselves to documenting the ENTIRE process of how to grow and fund a media startup without dying trying. They managed to fund Gimlet up to a Series A of 6 million dollars with a valuation of 30 million. Until it was acquired by Spotify in 2019.
In 2020 and 2021, we saw Gimlet become an important part of the editorial team for Spotify to launch new podcasts. After that, we didn't see much of them inside the company. That year passed relatively quietly, after Spotify's strategy shifted globally to one more skewed towards #CelebrityFirst, rather than #CreatorFirst.
A couple of months ago, a statement was released where Spotify canceled "some of Gimlet's shows", including How To Save The Planet, one of the highest-grossing podcasts from when Gimlet was on all audio and video platforms. of which Alex Blumberg other tree huggers were part.
We have not seen more than a couple of conversations on Reddit in relation to this news. Some of the comments about it like SophieTheCat's are: "Spotify really wasted their resources with this acquisition" to which other users like Yost_my_toast respond that: "It killed a lot of fantastic media in the process."
Gimlet Media has been a huge and constant inspiration for the birth of other podcast networks and organizations around the world, for the creation of loads of podcasts in different languages, and a true statement of the passion its founders had to create good content that makes the world a better place. GImlet is and always will be a game changer in the digital audio industry as we know it right now. And we understand that acquisitions sometimes flourish, and sometimes they don't. But what will happen in 2023? Where are we heading as a creative audio industry? We look forward to being able to continue listening to the work of Alex Blumberg and we are convinced that this is a new and good beginning for him, and that there is a light at the end of the road.
This news leaves us with a taste like the one that a Gilmet leaves you when you take it:
Bittersweet, bitter and with a fresh touch of hope.