David Sacks’ social podcasting app Callin launches and announces $ 12 million Series A round – TechCrunch


As live audio becomes increasingly popular, co-founders David Sacks (former PayPal COO and CEO of Yammer) and Axel Ericsson sought to combine social audio and podcasting into one seamless app. The resulting application Calling launches today on iOS with an announcement of $ 12 million in Series A funding co-led by Sequoia, Goldcrest and Craft Ventures, where Sacks is a founder and partner.

On live audio platforms like Clubhouse or Twitter Spaces, once a room is finished, the audio disappears. While Callin has similar live audio functionality, it sets itself apart by allowing users to save their live recording and edit it into an episode of a podcast.

“I had been trying to podcast for years, and never had, because it’s too complicated and the barriers are too high,” said Sacks, who started his “All In” podcast shut up. “We have a guy in the studio who spends six hours post-production on every episode of the pod, and we all had to get microphones, hardware … It’s hard to organize.”

For aspiring podcasters creating their first shows, Callin lowers the barrier to entry while allowing users to retain ownership of the content they create in the app. To start recording, users simply open a room, which can be private or public, then they can invite guests to speak with them or record alone. In a live room, Callin also has a more optimized queue for audience engagement to make crowd management easier for hosts.

To edit your podcast after recording, the application generates a transcript; transcription takes approximately the same amount of time as recording it. You can then tap on a block of text to cut it out of the podcast, including isolated filler words like um and uh. As of now, you can’t cut individual words or phrases within each block of text identified by the AI, but Sacks says the app will continue to develop its editing system. Callin also automates the process of removing “dead air” at the beginning or end of a recording. After finishing edits, the presenter can upload the recording as an episode of a show they create in the app. Users can also export their audio to share it on other podcast hosts, and in the future, Sacks said that users will be able to distribute content through an RSS feed.

“But consuming that content through a podcast app would be different from experiencing it on Callin, because you have interactive playback to see the room as it was when the conversation happened,” Sacks said. “So you can see who’s avatar you’re talking about and you can click on it and follow or browse their profile to see what else interests them, so it’s a different experience than just an audio file.”

Image credits: Callin, TechCrunch screenshot

Podcasters are still unable to publish their transcripts, which, like most automated transcripts, are not 100% accurate, but that functionality, which Callin is working on, could create much-needed accessibility that is still missing from Clubhouse. Like Clubhouse, Callin doesn’t support live captions yet (Twitter Spaces does). But Sacks said that once it expands to allow hosts to share transcripts, live captions would be “on the roadmap.”

“There are apps that make rooms, there are apps that let you edit transcripts, and there are apps that do social discovery or highlights, but no one has really put all of these pieces together into one experience,” Sacks said. “So we’re trying to be this complete vertical stack for anyone who wants to create an audio program, and I think you’ll see us continue to iterate through all aspects of that experience. We want there to be nothing you can do in a podcasting studio that you can’t do in our app. “

Still, in its current form, when released to the App Store, Callin lacks tools to edit the quality of an audio recording, add sound or music effects, and edit content in a more precise way. Also, a podcast recorded on an iPhone will not sound as good as a professionally produced show, or even a hobbyist’s podcast recorded on a consumer-grade USB microphone. But the success of live audio apps has shown that listeners sometimes aren’t looking for quality sound design and post-production, but just want to hear people talk about a topic that interests them. So Callin and his investors are betting on the fact that people would want to hear prerecorded Clubhouse rooms if they could.

Sacks has used his application to create programs such as “Sacks on SaaS”, a program for founders of software companies, and a talk show called “Red Pills”, which is titled with a phrase that has a very tense story In Internet. Other user-created content in the app includes shows about the NFL, Berlin startups, cooking, and more. In its beta version, Sacks says that Callin had “thousands” of users who created more than 100 programs.

According to its Community Guidelines, Callin “is a place for people to speak, so as long as speech is limited on our platform, there must be a good reason.” Callin will only limit speech restricted by a room host, speech restricted by “underlying technology platforms” such as Apple and Google, and “dangerous speech not protected by the First Amendment.”

Content moderation has been a challenge on live audio platforms like Clubhouse, which has struggled to refine its content moderation standards after reports of racist and anti-Semitic discourse. Callin’s community guidelines state that it will host any user-generated content that will not cause the app to launch in the Apple and Google stores. Recently, Parler served as a high-profile example of how a social platform refusal to moderate content It removed it from the app stores, though it has since been restored after months of back and forth.

With its $ 12 million Series A round, Callin hopes to be compatible with both the web and Android versions of the app. Eventually, Callin could seek profit through ads and show subscriptions, but Sacks says the company plans to scale first before exploring its monetization options.

“I think this is the best product I’ve ever worked on,” Sacks said. “I mean, I think it’s better than Yammer. I think it’s even better than PayPal. “




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