South East London’s Audioboo has been signed up as the BBC’s official partner for publishing audio clips of its content.
It represents a major endorsement for the business which lets users post their own audio clips online instantly. But then again, endorsement has never been a problem for a service championed by Stephen Fry and Tony Blackburn.
“It just happened,” said Audioboo CEO Mark Rock. “We spent no money on marketing or paying people to ‘boo’, it is essentially passionate users.
“Stephen Fry picked it up early, as he does with everything, and Tony Blackburn is a shameless self-promoter, so it works for him.”
Fry and Blackburn are joined by a host of radio stations, bloggers and people who want to make a point that just can’t be vented within 140 characters.
Although a number of BBC journalists and producers already use Audioboo, the deal is the first time the corporation has agreed to a formal media partnership outside of the major forces of the internet, such as Facebook and Twitter.
“The BBC were always very keen users of Audioboo but there was a push-back internally in terms of using external social networking.
“When we launched three years ago we had Radio 1, Radio 3 and a bunch of them using it, but it was difficult for the BBC to tie it in with Facebook, Twitter and their own stuff.”
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While the BBC is the first major media provider to officially link up with Audioboo, it is by no means a niche service. About 200,000 people listen to ‘boos’ recorded by 3,000 people every day.
Audioboo has also been popular with investors. Its first round of funding in June 2010 raised £1m, including backing from Imagination Technologies, UBC Media and angels such as Sir Don Cruickshank, who is now the company’s chairman.
A second round of funding came last year, when audiobook publisher AudioGo – set up by Michael Kuhn, former Rothschild bankers and other investors – became involved and helped boost Audioboo’s image in the US.
“The next round of funding will happen pretty soon,” said Rock. “The next round will be a VC round now we’ve proved the business model.”
So Audioboo appears to be another London tech start-up success story, except this one isn’t located on Silicon Roundabout. Rock says he is “too old” for the hard-living lifestyle that Tech City has to offer.
He’s a family man with four children – our interview had to be put back after one of his kids smeared jam on his phone – and so a base near to home, as well as London’s business district, is ideal.
“We’re not particularly hard social animals when it comes to going out after work and drinking to exchange ideas – we are clear on what we want to do.”
Perhaps it is that clarity that will help Audioboo press on to become the dominant website for the spoken word on the web.
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