Since we launched in March 2009, I think it’s fair to say we’ve punched above our weight on a number of fronts. We gained audience & exposure, pushed out major platform enhancements and generally been pretty active in engaging with our users. A lot of this is down to the superb team here (@jdelstrother, @thomashaggett, @hooleyhoop, @KLBarber and, more recently, @bruce_Ak). A lot is also attributable to our passionate user base who not only create great & compelling content but also inundate us with their suggestions, observations, gripes, wishes and heartfelt pain when our servers go for a tea break.
The immediate enthusiasm with which Audioboo was greeted on launch took us a bit by surprise, considering it was a kinda side project which we thought would be interesting to do rather than a viable business. Much of 2009 was spent juggling paid work with developing out the platform in the time left over. The project funding from 4IP, our sponsor at the very beginning, soon dried up and whilst the public perception was that we were raising (and spending) quite a lot of cash, the reality was very far from the truth. Every end of month brought the traditional problems as to how to pay staff, infrastructure costs, rent and the numerous other issues of a small idea with big intentions.
But thankfully that stage is behind us now. I am glad to be able to say that Audioboo is now funded.
We’ve accepted investment from a core team of strategic players in the audio market. UBC Media is one, a big producer in the UK radio market and which has a solid history in technical innovation. Another is Imagination Technologies, via their Pure radio division, who make DAB sets, a lot of which have internet connectivity. We are also honored to have Sir Don Cruickshank joins us as both investor & Chairman. Don’s experience in the media industry is second to none and will help me steer this beast towards the big vision we all have for it.
If you’re beginning to see a pattern emerging, you’re right.
We’re aggressively targeting the international radio market. We believe it’s one of the last areas of media in which innovation hasn’t even begun to effect the traditional way of creating & distributing content. Most radio stations seem to think that the 30 minute job of setting up an internet streaming service is a major step forward. Having a mobile app is close to radical.
Audioboo, born out of the ashes of Channel 4′s botched attempt to enter the DAB market in the UK in 2008, has always had the concept of radio at its core. But a different kind of radio from what’s been broadcast for the past 100 years. One that is inherently mobile, social to the core and, above all, user generated and rich with the metadata that enables it to be searchable and discoverable.
We’re a long way from realizing our ultimate goal of a universal ‘social voice’ platform that exists across multiple devices and media, including next generation devices that support radio. A platform that makes it as easy to post a private voice memo to your mum as it is to distribute your thoughts to close friends or the whole world. But we’ll get there. We need to. Audioboo started as a small blip in my head when my mother died in March 2008. I realised then I had nothing to remind me of her once strong voice to carry me through the difficult months ahead. Before she died, she wrote this very poignant poem:
When Poets Die by Daphne RockPoets die still deep with words,
ribbons of lines, verses
like unstitched tapestries and whole pages
not yet set. They lie unfathomed,
crowded into jars and button tins,
beads waiting for stringing. Listen -
you hear them, small clinks of glass and pearl,
rolling around, not into emptiness, they wait
to make a way to the sun, quickened
even in earth.
“Poets die still deep with words”. That sentence still resonates. A big part of audioboo’s mission going forward is to make sure we can all leave some of those words behind for those that care about us. Over time, Audioboo really has the potential to create the most amazing audio archive of our time, documenting how people expressed themselves, from private reflections to public commentary.
Regardless of what we achieve going forward, that will be the most valuable thing I personally will take from the rollercoaster ride of the past 18 months. And for all of you have supported us on that journey, thank you. You know who you are.