Matthew Lieber & Alex Blumberg

Cofounders, President and CEO of Gimlet Media

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 29, 2015

Discussion

Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
Hi, this is Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber, cofounders of Gimlet Media, the Brooklyn based company behind the podcasts StartUp, Reply All, and Mystery Show. Alex… is the CEO of Gimlet and host of StartUp, a podcast about what it’s really like to start a business. Before that, he was the creator of NPR’s Planet Money podcast, and a producer for This American Life. Matt… is the President of Gimlet, and occasional cast member on StartUp. Before that, he produced podcasts (Slate Culture Gabfest) and radio shows (NPR’s On Point), and spent a few years consulting for digital media companies at BCG. Ask us anything!
Tyler Mikev@tylermikev · Director of Mobile @ DRYV
How do you feel Season 2 of StartUp was received in comparison to Season 1? How has Season 2 influenced the direction of Season 3?
Alex Blumberg@abexlumberg · CEO
@tylermikev They were pretty different beasts. I think season 1 got a little more into family issues, and felt a little more immediate and intimate. and I think taht was basically because I was reporting on myself. You can't beat that combo, reporter and subject, as one. Season two though I thought got at a lot of broader issues in Silicon Valley. Also, it got at a bunch of interesting business issues around running a dating site. Also, there was a lot more actual drama! The response has been pretty great to both seasons.
Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
@tylermikev Season 2 did well. I was amazed at how open Emma & Lauren were about their experience, and we heard from many listeners who preferred it to SE01. In terms of audience, we kept most of the SE01 audience, and then saw growth on top of that. There's just something powerful about telling the honest story of starting a company, because there's so much mythology & layers of truthiness layered on top of startups these days.
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
@abexlumberg @tylermikev also, re: season 2 (a bit a of a side plug) Lauren Kay, the CEO of Dating Ring, will be doing a LIVE chat on Product Hunt as well, on Oct. 9th: http://www.producthunt.com/live/...
Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
@tylermikev Oh and in terms of Season 3... we want to do something fresh & different. I think that's all I'm permitted to say about it at this point.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@mlieber @tylermikev oh c'mon.... :P
David Mazza@dmzza · iOS Freelancer @ Peaking
@mlieber Marco Arment has said (something like) he is dreading the day when every podcast network has its own app. Do you think Gimlet Media could become a software company without creating a silo for your own content? Maybe like Medium for podcasting?
Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
@dmzza We are focused on creating narrative audio, not building software. I think others (including @marcoarment, whose Overcast app I use) are way better positioned to do that.
Alex Blumberg@abexlumberg · CEO
@dmzza No plans as of now to create Gimlet centric software or apps. We're good at making content. There's a hunger for the content we can create. We're going to stick to what we're good at.
Tyler Mikev@tylermikev · Director of Mobile @ DRYV
@mlieber @dmzza @abexlumberg What is the biggest need for podcast producers right now in terms of a app / platform / channel to listeners. I know on /r/podcasts, the big ask seems to be better podcast discovery, but thats mainly being requested by people hosting smaller, niche shows. Product Hunt did a great job by introducing better episode discovery; is there another large need the podcasting industry has right now to help it grow / improve?
Michael Davis@mikeymiked
@mlieber @abexlumberg In the last season of Start Up (which was great) one thing I felt was missing was what happens to the investors when a Start Up "fails" like Dating Ring? What is Dating rings liability to them. do they still get a cut of the "lifestyle" companys profits? How do they feel about it?
Alex Blumberg@abexlumberg · CEO
@mikeymiked You know, that's a good questiont aht we never really dove into. My assumption is that they don't share lifestyle profits with investors, but others here might know better than I.
Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
OK everyone, thanks for the awesome questions! I have one request: tomorrow find someone who's never listened to a podcast, and tell them about your favorite show. Doesn't have to be Gimlet. Treat it as a gift to your friend, and to the medium. Good night!
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@mlieber love it . great idea. thanks Matt!
Tyler Mikev@tylermikev · Director of Mobile @ DRYV
@mlieber Done.
Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
Hi, this is Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber, cofounders of Gimlet Media, the Brooklyn based company behind the podcasts StartUp, Reply All, and Mystery Show. Alex… is the CEO of Gimlet and host of StartUp, a podcast about what it’s really like to start a business. Before that, he was the creator of NPR’s Planet Money podcast, and a producer for This American Life. Matt… is the President of Gimlet, and occasional cast member on StartUp. Before that, he produced podcasts (Slate Culture Gabfest) and radio shows (NPR’s On Point), and spent a few years consulting for digital media companies at BCG. Ask us anything!
Adam Kazwell@kaz · Product manager/observer
@mlieber In the first season of Startup, you met with the Google Ventures team to prototype an app (episode here)...it was one of my favorite episodes and I'm curious - is there still a chance that you'll build your own podcasting app?
Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
@kaz I wouldn't rule it out, but we have no immediate plans. It's difficult to get distribution, and while I'm aware of some of the things that need to be fixed about podcasting tech, I'm humble about what it takes to do it well.
Tyler Mikev@tylermikev · Director of Mobile @ DRYV
Whats the response been to the premium service? Do people actually want access early content and a semi-decent looking shirt? I just signed up to support. The t-shirt was, well..... it was a t-shirt.
Alex Blumberg@abexlumberg · CEO
@tylermikev premium service went pretty well. It was a great start. People seem to like access to early content. We got a TON of feedback about our initial pilot that was up there. And yes, t-shirts are t-shirts. But people, including me, like them.
Tyler Mikev@tylermikev · Director of Mobile @ DRYV
@abexlumberg @tylermikev Haha I like mine too, but would definitely done a higher price point for something a little nicer. How did you guys decide on $60 as your ask?
Ben Stern@benstern0 · Product @Dropbox
Recently, Reply All especially has been collaborating with non-Gimlet podcasts. I assume the presumed value there is a "rising tide lifts all boats" sort of thing, but is it at the expense of long term success of Gimlet? Asked another way, how do you think about competition?
Alex Blumberg@abexlumberg · CEO
@benstern0 There isn't competition yet. Most people still don't listen to podcasts. Every break out hit, like serial, that raises the profile of the medium helps us all. These collaborations pay huge dividends as we each benefit from shared audience.
Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
@benstern0 We don't think that much about competition. We are fans of WNYC, Radiotopia, Earwolf, Slate, Panoply, NPR, and many more shows. The more listeners coming into the medium, through whatever portals, the better it is for all of us.
Ben Stern@benstern0 · Product @Dropbox
@abexlumberg Makes sense. Would FM radio in the car be the biggest competitor to podcasts in general?
Lisa S@lparke
@benstern0 I think the biggest competitor to podcasts is ignorance :) Occasionally I turn off my podcasts for music, so *maybe* you could consider that a competitor, but I think people not knowing they would like it is the biggest road block.
David Mazza@dmzza · iOS Freelancer @ Peaking
@lparke @benstern0 That's a good way of putting it. Podcasts are competing for minutes of auditory attention in the day.
Benjamin Peskoe@benjaminpeskoe · Student
Hey guys -- been loving following your progress so far. In your opinion, what's the biggest challenge for podcasting as an industry right now?
Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
@benjaminpeskoe Hey Ben! We're still just at the beginning of the industry. I would say the biggest challenge is distribution. In the US Market there are 200M+ people who should be listening to podcasts, and aren't. We need to get them into the medium.
Joe Filcik@jfilcik · Writer, Product Manager
@mlieber @benjaminpeskoe have you looked at distributing on @Spotify yet? They say they're moving into podcasts. Do you know enough to have an opinion on that yet?
Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
@jfilcik @benjaminpeskoe Yeah, we're in Spotify, and when it rolls out wide you'll be able to listen to us in there. We want to be available ubiquitously, across platforms.
Joe Filcik@jfilcik · Writer, Product Manager
@mlieber @benjaminpeskoe What do you think of @Spotify adding advertising over the top of your show?
Benjamin Mock@benjaminmock
What other podcasts do you listen to regularly?
Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
@benjaminmock Death Sex Money, Longform, Another Round, Recode/Decode, a16z, Strangers
Alex Blumberg@abexlumberg · CEO
@benjaminmock I'm always listening to new stuff. Combat Jack. Another Round. How to Do Everything. Love and Radio. As well as my old favs, TAL, RadioLab, Planet Money. 99%.
Jeremy Kun@jeremyjkun
@mlieber What is the minimum viable (projected) audience size for a new Gimlet podcast? (Assume everything else about the pitch is good) Say, if someone comes to you and says "I think can get X weekly downloads starting immediately and Y weekly downloads by next year," what do you need X and Y to be to justify launching? In other words, how niche is too niche?
Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
@jeremyjkun We don't try and predict audience sizes, because we've found we're not very good at it. But for us to want to pursue a show, we basically want to see that there's three things 1) a solid framework that will accomadate good stories 2) companionable hosts / characters 3) the potential for listeners to learn something. We don't think too much about "niche" or "not niche," because even while they're focused we try and give the shows some element of universal appeal. For instance, StartUp is a niche subject (a documentary about starting a business), but we hope that our treatment makes it accessible to a broad audience.
nicole delcore@nicoledelcore
@mlieber I'm a freshman in college and my dream job is to write for/create a podcast. What should I major in?
Alex Blumberg@abexlumberg · CEO
@nicoledelcore wahtever you want! Whatever you love. The best podcasters are people who are passionate about something other than podcasting.
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
Hi @mlieber and @abexlumberg, a lot has happened in the podcasting world in the past year. What developments have excited you most, and what what developments do you hope to see next year (in addition to expanding the percentage of Americans listening).
Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
@alexcartaz Most exciting development of the last year was Serial & the global boom of attention to the medium. Development I'm most hoping for: a universally installed app for listening to podcasts on Android.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO: If you were somehow not yourselves but knew everything about yourselves* what question would you ask "Matt Leiber" and "Alex Blumberg" right now in this Q&A? Also presume, in this hypothetical scenario, that you are much better at phrasing questions than I am.
Alex Blumberg@abexlumberg · CEO
@eriktorenberg What happened to that half pint of chunky monkey that was in your freezer last night? Did you really eat the whole thing? All at once? What's wrong with you?
Zach Whelchel@zachwhelchel · Napkn
How open are you to outsiders pitching you on a show? Is the goal to develop all the show concepts inside Gimlet or are you hoping people will come to you with ideas that they want to head and join Gimlet in the process?
Alex Blumberg@abexlumberg · CEO
@zachwhelchel Very open to outside pitches. We need great people with great ideas. We'll take them from anywhere!
Zach Whelchel@zachwhelchel · Napkn
@abexlumberg @zachwhelchel awesome. Where is the idea box? Email best?
Alex Blumberg@abexlumberg · CEO
@zachwhelchel yeah. email is best.
Joe Filcik@jfilcik · Writer, Product Manager
@mlieber @alexblumburg What do you think of people who listen to your show at 2x speed ? 👂💨
Alex Blumberg@abexlumberg · CEO
@jfilcik How dare they! Just kidding. I often listen to shows at 1.5x speed. I can't handle 2x, but i'm working up there. Some shows I listen in real time, if there's a lot of effort put into sound design and whatnot. My rule of thumb is, if they're going for something artistic, then I listen in real time. If it's just info, I can speed it up. But I don't begrudge anyone listening at any speed. As long as they're listening, I'm happy.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
HUGE Thanks for @ablexlumberg @mlieber for taking the time to chat with us today, for their support to PH throughout, and for making StartUp, which made it easier to tell our parents what we do for a living. Listen to all the shows on www.gimletmedia.com, and sign up for premium! you'll feel good about yourself and people will affirm you.
Alex Blumberg@abexlumberg · CEO
My advice, pay attention to your own boredom and your own confusion. If some part of you doesn't quite get what someone is saying, go back and make them lay it out. I'm always talking to young reporters who come back with tape, and I'll listen, and I'll ask, what did so and so mean when they said that? And the reporters don't know! They didn't pay attention to their own confusion.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@abexlumberg love it. noted!
Brandon Brown@brandonb927 · work @sendwithus
@mlieber I've been following along with Startup, ReplyAll, and Mystery Show for awhile now and I have the say that the production quality of the show is amazingly top-notch! Currently working for a startup, I can align with most of the feelings you guys experienced growing your idea into what it is now. I'll probably never understand the stress behind raising money and the emotional rollercoaster of everything around that. My one other comment is that I unfortunately was never exposed to podcasts until earlier this year where I discovered Startup Podcast here on Product Hunt, so I have yet to discover This American Life or other NPR shows, however I've become emotionally invested in the shows that Gimlet Media produces and am a paying member :) My question for you is, what was one of the untold hurdles to launching Gimlet that was never aired nor mentioned in Startup?
Matthew Lieber@mlieber · StartUp, cofounder
@brandonb927 Thanks Brandon! I think we put most of the hurdles into StartUp. Today we had an infestation of moths in our studio, because they started feasting on the soundproofing materials. Getting rid of them is definitely becoming a hurdle.