World’s Largest Podcast Marketplace Raises Funds to Support International Expansion and Accelerate Growth
Stockholm, SE — December 5, 2018 Acast — the world’s largest podcast marketplace — today announced that it has secured a Series C investment of $33 million USD (300 Million SEK) led by a group of European Investors. Lead investors in the round were AP1, which manages part of the capital in Sweden’s national income pension system. AP1 is joined by Swedbank Robur funds Ny Teknik and Fokus Fund who also invested in the Series B round. Acast has now raised over $67 million USD to date including this most recent Series C. Past investors include Bonnier Growth Media, MOOR, Alfvén & Didrikson, the CNI Network, Norron Asset Management’s funds Target and Select, and Inbox Capital.
In the four years since its founding, Acast has been a technological pioneer for the podcast industry. Historically, Acast is known for pioneering dynamic ad insertion, a first for the industry, that is now standard. Over the past year, the company has been focused on developing powerful cutting edge voice activated technologies for smart speakers. Since the beginning of 2018, Acast has seen a 1000% increase in listens on home devices and smart speakers. Recent innovations include building the exclusive in-car podcast app for Ford. In addition, Acast recently built and launched an Alexa Skill for podcast listening and recommendations and an app for Google Assistant as well.
“This has been the biggest year in our short history as a company. In 2018 alone, Acast has grown by 86% percent, breaking all our records.” said Acast CEO Ross Adams. “Working with respected investors like AP1 and Robur on realizing 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.”
In 2018 Acast grew to 3,300 hosted shows, an increase of 93% over 2017. Acast has already been working with top global audio creators like My Dad Wrote a Porno, Spar, and VICE and this year the company added the BBC, ITV, Osher Gunsberg, Athletico Mince, and Peg och Penny among many others to it’s ranks. More than 125 million listens happen each month platform wide, representing a growth of 62% from last year. In addition to continually signing the best content creators in the world, Acast is also bringing more unique distribution opportunities to the table for creators. This year, Acast established a partnership with Spotify to distribute the company’s 3,300 podcasts across Spotify’s 180 million listeners at the click of a button while maintaining the ability to monetize on all tiers of the Spotify ecosystem through Acast’s proprietary dynamic ad insertion technology.
The world’s best global brands such as Netflix, Kraft, Bose, Land Rover, and Airbnb are also partnering with Acast to find new ways of reaching the highly engaged and leaned audience that is podcast listeners. In the UK and US 76% of podcast listeners have acted on a podcast ad they heard, either visiting the website or googling a brand to learn more. Through the Acast Global Marketplace advertisers have access to the most advanced targeting and measurement in the industry, as well as programmatic buying. Another emerging growth area is that of branded content — in the last eighteen months Acast has delivered results-driven branded content campaigns for the likes of Land Rover, Telefonica’s O2 and NatWest. Finally, Acast last week announced a new partnership with A Million Ads, allowing for the creation of the first ever personalised podcast advertising, globally.
The Series C funding will be used in part to accelerate Acast’s growth in places like the US, which is already Acast’s fastest growing market, representing 25% of all listens on the platform. Acast will also continue to expand internationally. In 2018, the company began offering services in Ireland and New Zealand.
Olof Jonasson, Head of Equities at First Swedish National Pension Fund (AP1) said “Our mission is to deliver high, long term returns and maintain a low risk to the benefit of the future pensioners. We believe that this investment in Acast has potential to contribute to our mission. Acast is in a very interesting position within a growing and changing industry. We look forward to following them on their journey to success.”
Henrik Carlman and Johan Strand, fund managers of Ny Teknik and Fokus funds said ”We are very proud and excited at Swedbank Robur, to support Acast with our second round of investments in the company. 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.”
ABG Sundal Collier AB and Carnegie acted as financial advisers to Acast in relation to the financing round.
About Acast Acast is a data-driven marketplace for the next generation of voice technology and podcasting. Since 2014, Acast has been the engine powering audio for makers all over the world. At its core, Acast connects audio makers with the financial support they need to create amazing content while also delivering the audience they want. Acast works with podcasts globally including My Dad Wrote a Porno, The Adam Buxton Podcast, Värvet, Ask A Clean Person and The Football Ramble as well as those of publishers such as the Times, the Economist, Guardian, VICE and Vogue. As a global business, Acast has offices around the world from Stockholm to Sydney and a team of 100 talented audio lovers working diligently to create a sustainable audio and voice ecosystem to ensure that the audio industry continues to grow and flourish. Acast was founded by Karl Rosander and Mans Ulvestam together with co-founder Johan Billgren.
About AP1: AP1 Första AP-fonden (AP1) is one of five AP-funds which ensures stability in the Swedish national income pension system. AP1’s assets under management totals SEK 338 billion (30 June 2018) and the global portfolio consists of equities, fixed income securities and alternative investments. The mission is to generate the highest possible return, while maintaining a low level of risk, and thus contribute to a high and predictable income pension for current and future pensioners. Första AP-fonden is a long-term investor and an active owner. In its role as owner, the Fund places high demands in the areas of environmental, social and corporate governance. www.ap1.se
About Swedbank Robur: One of Scandinavia’s largest mutual fund managers with over SEK 1300 billion of assets under management (AUM) that serves approximately 3.1MM customers in Sweden and 1.1MM in the Baltic Region. Altogether there are approximately 80 investment funds under the Swedbank Robur brand covering all major regions, sectors and asset classes. A few of the funds have a strategy to invest in unlisted companies in a pre-IPO phase. All of those funds have decided to invest in Acast, more about them below:
- Ny Teknik — is a fund that invests primarily in Swedish and Nordic companies that focus mainly on high-tech products and services. The fund has received many awards during the years the most recent one being named the best Nordic fund by Thomson Reuters in both the 3 year category and the 5 year category based on its performance.
- Microcap — was launched in april 2017 and is a concentrated fund which focuses on companies with business models that showcase a high degree of business innovation in the Nordic region.
- Fokus — was launched in October 2018 and is a concentrated global fund looking to invest in up to 30 of best companies in the world. Companies that are usually being owner operated, have a high degree of innovation accomplished with a strong business model.