Podcast Producer Wondery in Talks With Amazon

Podcast Producer Wondery in Talks With Amazon
Hernan Lopez launched Wondery in 2016.

Amazon.com Inc. is reportedly pursuing an acquisition of West Hollywood-based podcast production company Wondery Inc.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the two companies are in talks over a deal that would value the podcast network at more than $300 million.

In 2019, when Wondery raised $10 million in a Series B funding round, the company had a pre-money valuation of $125 million, according to Pitchbook Data Inc.

Wondery was founded in 2016 by former Fox International Channels President Hernan Lopez and has quickly become one of the most influential networks in the podcasting industry. 

Its early investors include Greycroft and Waverley Capital. The company’s shows tallied nearly 60 million downloads in November, with more than 9 million unique listeners, according to analyst Podtrac Inc.

Wondery has nearly cornered the market for true crime podcasts, and its long list of popular shows include “Dr. Death,” “The Shrink Next Door,” and “The Mysterious Mr. Epstein.” In 2018, Bravo adapted the company’s “Dirty John” podcast into a television series.

Wondery has been on a roll recently. By Podtrac’s metrics, the company boasted eight of the top 20 podcasts of 2019, based on average downloads per episode.

In addition to its true crime offerings, Wondery also produces podcasts focused on current events, health and other topics. The company has partnered with multiple celebrity hosts, including Jillian Michaels and Justin Long.

News of the potential Wondery pursuit comes just months after Amazon announced a new subscription plan for its Audible app that gives members access to an array of exclusive podcast titles. The company also added podcasts to its Amazon Music platform in September.

Wondery rolled out a subscription plan of its own last year, offering customers an ad-free listening experience and access to premium content.

In recent years, major media players like iHeartMedia Inc. and Spotify have scooped up smaller podcast companies and even individual hosts. 

Spotify grabbed headlines earlier this year when it spent nearly $200 million to acquire The Ringer Podcast Network and later struck a deal worth more than $100 million with popular podcaster Joe Rogan.

In October, iHeartMedia Inc. acquired industry analytics company VoxNest Inc. to automate the sale of ads for its stable of popular podcasts.

With the acquisition of Wondery, Amazon would significantly expand its influence in the podcasting industry. The podcast producer is one of the largest remaining independent networks. 

Amazon does not appear to be Wondery’s first suitor. Bloomberg reported last month that both Apple Inc. and Sony Corp. had held talks with Wondery about a possible sale, with a valuation between $300 million and $400 million. Spotify declined to make a bid for the company, according to the report.

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