Podcast fans have long bemoaned the issue of discoverability on major platforms—and for good reason.
As a way for smaller podcasts to cut through the masses—and to build a more dedicated community around podcasts—Ada Yeo cofounded Shuffle, a platform that allows users to edit audio clips from podcasts, add visual elements, and share on social.
“Podcasts never ever go viral—why is that? It’s impossible for a two-hour MP3 file to go viral. It’s not built for the internet,” says CEO Yeo, who was previously a product manager at digital currency exchange Coinbase. “You could have the best content in the world, but Joe Rogan still gets all the traffic because there’s a huge pileup.”
Yeo got the idea for Shuffle, which launched in beta in July, after she and her co-founder and CTO Gilbert Leung became inundated with the podcast recommendations they were sending to each other.
“He would be like, ‘I love podcasts, but I’m not going to dedicate 40 hours to something that I don’t know is going to be relevant or to my taste,'” Yeo says. “And so I started sending him timestamps and insights. I was like, ‘There has to be a better way to do this.'”
In Shuffle, users search for a podcast episode, which is transcribed through the app. Once you’ve picked up to one minute of the episode you wish to spotlight, you can add gifs, stickers, images, and text before sharing the clip on other platforms or downloading it directly. The clip is also uploaded to the app itself, where it’s automatically tagged in a category (comedy, sports, fiction, business, and so forth) that the community can peruse. Yeo says they’re also exploring the option of user-generated tags.
Either way, she’s hoping Shuffle can grown into a more centralized community for podcast lovers.
“What’s missing on the internet is a spaces for podcast fans to gather—you really see it being extremely siloed right now,” Yeo says. “Someone will listen to Bill Simmons and then go to Reddit and try to discuss it. That’s just an extremely weird way to have social around a media format.”
Yeo says they’re focused more on growing their community of users than revenue at the moment. (The app will formally launch in Q1 of 2021, and has “thousands of fan-generated clips” and “thousands of hours of audio being consumed,” according to Yeo.)
Down the line, she sees the possibility for Shuffle to have a free tier powered by ads and a premium, ad-free option. She also stresses the fact that Shuffle is by no means meant to replace podcast episodes with one-minute clips.
“It’s really to lower the barrier to entry to trying out new podcasts,” she says.
Ultimately, Yeo sees Shuffle a bit like the TikTok of podcasts.
“When we asked our most active users, ‘What do you think this is?’ They were like, ‘TikTok for a podcast.’ It’s a little bit simplistic, but I would say the idea is there,” Yeo says. “It’s a stream of content that’s delivered in short burst. That’s content you really care about. It’s topical and you can find your community there.”