Micah Rosenbloom is a Venture Partner at the Founder Collective venture capital firm, which has seed investments in companies like Buzzfeed, Uber, and MakerBot. He also has roots in entertainment, starting his career at the Endeavor talent agency. Yet, on episode #75 of The Wolf Den podcast he tells host Adam Sachs that he’s shied away from investing in content and media businesses.
“It’s hard to monetize,” Micah explains, because much of content production is relatively inexpensive, which means there’s a lot of competition taking advantage of the low barrier to entry. In fact, while Buzzfeed looks like a content company at first glance, he says Founder Collective invested because, “they had a tech angle, which was to figure out what was trending.”
Last year Micah entered the spotlight when former This American Life producer and Planet Money co-founder Alex Blumberg pitched him on funding his Gimlet Media podcast company, documenting the whole thing on Gimlet’s StartUp podcast. Micah decided to pass on funding Gimlet. When that episode dropped he got a text from a former colleague saying, “you idiot.”
Adam follows up, “Do you feel like an idiot?”
“No,” Micah responds. “I think it opened my eyes… I think (podcasting’s) a great medium. There’s the question of whether it’s a great business as a venture capitalist–the production of podcasts as a venture-scale business.”
Then, he clarifies, “I am increasingly of the view that it is an important medium, and that it fills a void. That twenty minute commute, an alternative to radio.”
And it’s not just people working in tech who are listening. “My son plays basketball on the weekends, and I was at his game. And a guy who is a banker was like, ‘Oh yeah, I download podcasts every day on the elevator ride down and listen to them on the subway ride to work.’ It was interesting to hear someone outside my universe saying something like that. It was very eye opening.”
Micah is a podcast listener, too, often using shows as a way to get his head out of work. “Sometimes I need this middle ground. It’s nutrition. But it’s not writing a business plan.”
Gimlet Media ended up raising more than a million dollars in capital, though Micah observes that most of Gimlet’s funders were angel investors. He says there’s an emotional side to investing in a company like Gimlet that he understands. “If I were investing out of my own checkbook Alex would be at the top of my list.” That’s because, “In his category he’s the Steven Spielberg or Michael Jordan.”
Micah also experienced the reach and power of podcasting first-hand.
He says hundreds of people have said they heard him on the podcast, telling him, “‘Oh, I heard you on StartUp. Were you that guy on StartUp?’ More than people read my blog or go to my website and read my bio.”
He continues, “It’s really interesting. Maybe the audio and the voice is something that sticks in people’s brain a little more. It’s a story they remember.”
Listen to the whole episode to learn why Micah thinks using platforms like Twitter, blogs and podcasts is valuable for entrepreneurs, as part of their “air game.” He also reveals his own podcasting plans.