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How the cofounder of Breaker created a podcast app that (finally) serves listeners

For creating a podcasting app that surfaces what listeners actually want to hear, Breaker cofounder and CTO Leah Culver is one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People of 2019.

How the cofounder of Breaker created a podcast app that (finally) serves listeners
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]
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When Leah Culver started listening to the true-crime drama Serial, it was because everyone was telling her to. (That, and she was training for a marathon.) But when she finished and began sifting through the glut of nearly 660,000 podcasts to find something else, it quickly devolved into “a chore,” says the Dropbox alum. “I wanted to make it more fun.” So she built Breaker, a free, two-year-old podcast app that combines elements from other content-discovery platforms to surface ear-gems tailored to a specific user. A Netflix-style home screen greets listeners with a carousel of new episodes in their subscribed-to series, as well as options like “Continue listening” and “Under 20 minutes.” There’s also a Spotify-like playlist function that allows users to sort and reorder new episodes in just a couple of taps, and an Activity tab that reveals what friends are listening and subscribing to. Today, the average Breaker user spends 25 minutes per day in the app, and new users’ activity doubles between their first and second month—a sign that they’re finding new content they like. Breaker recently introduced a feature called Upstream that allows podcasters to charge users for subscriptions or single episodes inside the app. (The company takes 4%.) “Right now, to make money on a podcast, you have to have a large audience and sell ads,” says Culver. “We wanted to provide an easy, alternate way.”

About the author

J.J. McCorvey is a staff writer for Fast Company, where he covers business and technology.

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