Recode Decode: Gimlet founders Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber

  • How do you describe Gimlet? Gimlet is an audio first, digital media company (1:06) 

  • 3 parts to the business: (1) Gimlet Original which are the shows we create, own and invest heavily in. (2) Gimlet Creative which makes all the advertising that appears on our shows. We also make branded podcasts for brands. (3) Gimlet Pictures which takes intellectual property from our shows and develops it for tv and film. (4:36) 

  • The myth of being an entrepreneur: Ask any entrepreneur how’s it going? Crushing it. Everything’s going great. The truth is it feels 180 degrees the opposite. There’s so much change is it’s uncomfortable. (7:44) 

  • Something that brings down lots of leaders: Their own blind spots. Spots where they are not acting rational interest but out of an emotion they don’t understand. (11:13) 

  • The power of audio: The audience is creating an image of you in the minds. Your words become a part of them. That is the power of it. That you connect that way. (16:01) 

  • What is the business model for Gimlet: Most of our business is advertising. People who hear our shows will hear a mid-roll break or a pre-roll ad. Our ads are stories about the brand. (19:30) 

  • A summary of the Podcast Industry: It is a high growth market. The podcast industry today is not huge. It was $250 million last year. This year will be $400-$500 million. Facebook did $50 billion last year. Radio did $18 billion. The bet we are making is not this is a huge industry today. The bet we are making is the dollars from radio will move to podcasts. (21:24) 

  • The people listening to podcasts are really hard to reach: Our word for the audience is the unreachables. The median age of 31. They watch television but do it on Netflix and Amazon so they don’t see ads. They are on the internet all day but 65% of them use ad blockers. Our ads are effective because they are native and midstream and good. (22:44) 

  • Why do you want to move into brand advertising and away from mattress or sock sales? That is where bigger budgets are. We can do more interesting, creative work. [With more money] Podcasts are a good medium for brand advertising. (29:25)

  • Podcasts are special: The connection that happens through audio is special and direct. It’s not cluttered up with a bunch of other stuff on a feed. (30:25)

  • Will Podcast CPM’s stay high? When banner ads first appeared the click rate was 80%. Now it’s basically 0%. Do you think about what happens once you get through this first phase? (32:19)

  • Programmatic audio (ads) are coming: We are really conscious about not eroding the listener experience. If you turn on the radio right now you’ll get 20 minutes of ads per hour. The ads will sound interruptive and annoying. (34:15)

  • Full podcast here.