The New York Times Company announced Monday that it has acquired an app called Audm, which turns long stories into audio,media outlet TechCrunch reported. While there are other services that turn news articles into audio, including later-use apps such as Instagram and Pocket, Audm differentiates itself by using professional voice actors to tell content rather than automated dubbing techniques.
This allows content to be more interesting to listen to, for example, more like listening to podcasts. The start-up was founded by Ryan Wegner and Christian Brink, both graduated from Columbia University in 2007 with a background in psychology and software development. The two didn’t know each other in college, but eventually met in 2014, when their idea of an audio news app began to prompt them to work together. Initially, the two founders tried crowdsourcing, but then set about using professional voice talent to make their applicationstand.
The company joined Y Combinator’s business incubator in 2017 to further develop Audm’s business. At the time, Audm worked with a number of publishing partners, including Wired, The Atlantic, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Review of Books, and ProPublica, and London Review of Books. According to monday’s statement, the company also works with Outside, BuzzFeed News, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, New York, Rolling Stone and Texas Monthly. and other media cooperation.
Of course, the New York Times has worked with Audm, but with limited scope. Currently, Audm has only provided a few NYT stories, all starting in 2019. Given the new acquisition, that will soon change. The company said it had begun reading the New York Times article on Sunday’s “The Daily” to help provide information to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other audio stories from The New York Times Magazine are also being produced and will run in the Audm app, including The Wing, Bernie Sanders and others. In addition, the New York Times said it was experimenting with other forms of distribution, including on mobile pages, and expanding from the magazine to other departments in a timely manner.
After a three-day free trial, Monday’s Audm app allows users to subscribe to its service for $8.99 a month or $59.99 a year. The New York Times Company has not provided any details about whether or how its business model developed, or whether Audm’s services will be further integrated with its NYT applications.
Audm currently ranks 20th in the Magazines and Newspapers category in the App Store. The app can also be used on Android, but does not rank high in the Google Play App Store.
According to the New York Times, Audm will continue to tell hours of new stories each week, including by The New York Times and other publishers. As a result of the deal, Wegner, director of voice audio production, and Brink, the product director of Audm, and other members of the team joined the New York Times Company.
According to Pitchbook, Audm has raised early funding from Y Combinator, Hack VC, Venture Precursors and Switch Ventures.