Unfortunately I can’t attend Podcast Evolutions this year. If you’re attending and have some hot gossip, feel free to send it my way! Also some warm, dry weather – that would be nice.
Today, SiriusXM is laying off hundreds of staffers, Twitter Spaces is losing another position, and podcast brothers can’t catch a break in the dating market.
How will SiriusXM’s layoffs affect its podcasting business?
On Monday, SiriusXM CEO Jennifer Witz announced she would be cutting about 475 roles 8 percent of employees at the company. Citing economic uncertainty (new!), Witz said the cuts are a result of management’s plan to “improve collaboration, consolidate teams to achieve greater efficiency, and ultimately design an organizational structure that is best positioned to achieve our priorities.” Every department was hit, including engineering, sales and, of course, podcasting.
SiriusXM built itself into a podcasting force when it acquired Stitcher in 2020 for $325 million and has since been added to its roster by Team Coco and 99% invisible. Once you have licensing deals with Freakonomics Radio and Crooked Media, SiriusXM Podcast Network is the largest podcast publisher in the industry, according to Edison and Triton Digital. But all those acquisitions mean a lot of news workers, many of whom were affected by the layoffs. A podcast team saw its workforce cut in half.
It seems the company is determined to maintain that broad reach without the same breadth of content or staff. At an all-hands meeting last month, chief content officer Scott Greenstein advocated making fewer but better shows, according to one person who attended the meeting. Greenstein underlined that point on another all-hands yesterday in which he touted Kevin Hart and Conan O’Brien’s podcasts as success stories, the person said. It seems to be a continuation of the shift from quirky newcomer shows to podcasts hosted by big names with instant appeal. Greenstein’s comments set alarm bells ringing internally. “We’re wary of the celebrity-fueled podcasts,” the person said.
According to SiriusXM spokesperson Jessica Casano-Antonellis, Greenstein’s comments were meant to demonstrate what the company is particularly good at: identifying programs that have crossover potential for podcasts and radio. Hart ran a SiriusXM channel before getting his podcast, while SiriusXM launched a Team Coco channel after acquiring the company last year.
Between Greenstein’s comments, extensive staff cuts and Witz’s focus on consolidations, it seems inevitable that some podcasts will fall by the wayside.
Twitter Spaces deletes old recordings
They really tend to do it live. Twitter sent a notification saying the service will erase old recorded broadcasts. The notification read, “If you want to keep recorded broadcasts, download them quickly or you risk losing them,” and then redirected to the Help Center. It seems you can still include new Spaces, but how long will they be available to you? Who’s to say. The takedowns appear to be the latest sign of cost-cutting at Twitter — and a further deprioritization of audio features.
Clearly we’ve come a long way, long away from last summer when Twitter announced a beta podcast feature. Hardcore Twitter under Elon Musk almost immediately abolished podcast playlists, as did most of the Spaces team. One of the most important – and unique – components of the podcast feature was that it would create individualized playlists that would combine shows from RSS with recorded Spaces.
The move also comes as the company fired one of its most essential Spaces staffers, Leah Culver. Culver came to Twitter in 2021 after the company acquired its Breaker podcast app. Culver lasted much longer than most Spaces team members tweeted last week that “my only regret is that I didn’t get fired for something amazing and hilarious. Instead, I’m just part of the resignation of acquired founders.
Twitter Spaces is one of the few live audio platforms still hanging around, but it’s unclear how much longer that will be as the vertical keeps getting prioritized. With so few people left at the company and so many issues to solve, it’s hard to see how Spaces can move forward.
Chameleon: Wild Boys wins podcast of the year at the Ambies
The Podcast Academy announced its Awards for Excellence in Audio last night during the Ambies. Campground and Sony’s Chameleon: Wild Boys took home the award for Podcast of the Year. We will probably get more from Campside and Wild guys producer Sam Mullins, while the studio a deal at first sight with him last month.
You can see the full list of winners here.
It’s hard for a podcast brother out there
With all due respect, there is a consequence to put all your thoughts on the internet.
That’s it for now. See you next week!