Wondery is one of several audio startups that blossomed in recent years. Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg News By Benjamin Mullin Close
Amazon didn’t disclose the purchase price. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that the talks valued Wondery at more than $300 million.
Founded in 2016, Wondery is one of several audio startups that blossomed in recent years as podcasting caught on with advertisers and listeners. Wondery is known for its gritty, narrative-driven podcasts that apply cinematic sound design to nonfiction stories.
Amazon said acquiring Wondery—the maker of true-crime shows like “Dr. Death,” “Dirty John” and “The Shrink Next Door”—would allow the company to deepen its podcast offerings.
Wondery podcasts will continue to be available to listeners on a variety of platforms for free when the deal closes, Amazon said. Wondery will be joining Amazon Music, the division of the company that offers listeners music-streaming and podcasts.
Several other podcast startups have been acquired in recent years as technology, radio and news companies seek new listeners. Spotify Technology SA recently bought Gimlet Media, the Ringer and Parcast, expanding its capacity for producing and monetizing podcasts.
Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Journal, has a content partnership with Spotify’s Gimlet unit.
Last year, radio company Entercom Communications Corp. purchased podcasters Pineapple Street Media and Cadence13. And earlier this year, the New York Times announced the acquisition of Serial Productions, maker of the hit podcast “Serial.”
Wondery Chief Executive Hernan Lopez will be leaving the company after the deal closes, an Amazon spokeswoman said. Jen Sargent, the company’s chief operating officer, will take over management of Wondery upon Mr. Lopez’s departure, the spokeswoman said.
After the deal closes, Mr. Lopez will focus on the Hernan Lopez Family Foundation, a new initiative aimed at combating systemic bias and racism, the people said.
In April, Mr. Lopez was charged with participating in an alleged scheme to pay millions of dollars in bribes to soccer officials in exchange for broadcasting rights when he was an executive at Fox Sports. Mr. Lopez has denied the charges. A lawyer for Mr. Lopez, Matthew Umhofer, told the Journal earlier this year that the portion of the U.S. indictment that mentioned Mr. Lopez “alleges nothing remotely improper.”
The subsidiary where Mr. Lopez worked, Fox International Channels, was absorbed by Walt Disney Co. in 2019. Amazon didn’t comment on the charges against Mr. Lopez. Fox said in a 2017 trial that it didn’t know about or approve any bribes. Fox declined to comment. Disney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wondery’s funders include Waverley Capital, Advancit Capital, Lerer Hippeau and Greycroft. Its last funding round, in June 2019, valued the company at more than $100 million, the Journal reported. It is on pace to increase its revenue to more than $40 million this year.
LionTree LLC advised Wondery on the deal.
Write to Benjamin Mullin at [email protected]
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