Goom Radio Ignores Recession, Raises $16 Million

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moneyGoom Radio is feeling pretty flush. Despite the general economic insanity, they have managed to round up over $16 million in first-round funding as they try to bring a new streaming radio service to the U.S. this July.

Goom launched in France last fall with a unique combination of professionally-programmed and user-generated content. Now the company is planning to bring its audio offerings to U.S. listeners, with a mission of “reinventing radio for the Internet generation.”

Financial backers include Wellington Partners Venture Capital, Elaia Partners and Partech International. Goom promises to allow users to influence what is played through MyGoom feedback loops including blogging. They also want to reach markets they consider under-served by broadcast radio, such as indie and alternative.

Dave Kaplan, senior editor at The Washington Post, has been tracking Google’s experiments with radio advertising. In a piece on Goom, April 14, Kaplan summarizes Goom’s management, including former Google audio director, Drew Hilles:

The company is headed by Rob Williams, former president and market manager for Clear Channel New York. He’s joined by chief sales officer Drew Hilles, who led dMarc Broadcasting through an acquisition by Google, where he served as a director for four years.

The company recently hired broadcast vet Joe Anastasi as account executive of the sales team. Anastasi was recently at Google Audio. About two months ago, Google shut down its Radio Ads product and is now developing a streaming audio-ad-placement service.

This looks like a new animal in the radio ecosystem: a hybrid of user generated and programmed content presented in a free, ad supported, fashion. The business performance in France and management team were solid enough to attract backing despite the economic fears gripping every industry, including venture capital.

Is Goom Radio the next generation of dMarc Broadcasting — with a Google pedigree added? Will Google end up buying Goom? Does Google find it easier to innovate outside it’s corporate structure, cutting projects loose and then pulling them back once the roadblocks to revenue are solved?

For some great background on the Goom deal, check out this interview with Jim Woods, Google director of product management, audio, by Randy J. Stine for Radio World. Here’s Goom’s press release with more details on the deal. MG Siegler at TechCrunch has a good dialogue going about the merits of Goom Radio vs. Pandora and other streaming services.

Photo courtesy of borman818, used under its Creative Commons license

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