Serial entrepreneur Paul English has sold his latest venture, podcast discovery app Moonbeam, to one of the country’s largest radio station operators, with plans to plow the proceeds into his newly launched startup incubator.
English declined to say how much money Audacy (formerly Entercom) paid for the Moonbeam app, although he said it will be enough to fund Boston Venture Studio’s operations for two years. The Moonbeam technology, English said, will probably be the centerpiece of Audacy’s podcast tech (though the Moonbeam name will probably go away).
To English, the sale of Moonbeam, roughly one year after its launch, marks the sixth such deal that he has completed of a startup that he’s led, or helped lead. He made most of his millions selling Kayak to what was then Priceline.com, in 2013 for nearly $2 billion. English helped lead Boston Light (sold to Intuit), InterMute (bought by Trend Micro), and GetHuman (sold to two of its executives). He cofounded Lola.com, a travel-tech company, in 2015 and eventually sold that technology to Capital One last year, before embarking on his venture studio project.
Now the 11-person team at Boston Venture Studio will focus on other consumer-facing apps, including Deets, which English is positioning as a restaurant recommendation app, and Reki, which helps friends share what they’re watching on TV. (None of the BVS employees left with the sale of Moonbeam.) English and his crew, which includes former Kayak and Lola collaborator Paul Schwenk, is working on nine apps right now, with a goal of turning two or three into businesses by the end of the year. The BVS group, a mix of people based in the Boston area and in New York, works with a team of about 30 engineers at a Pakistani company called Arbisoft.
“We’re trying to learn from each other so a lot of the core tech from one app gets used in the second app,” English said.
English said he’s in the process of finding a CEO for Deets, although there’s no guarantee that the person he finds will be based in Boston.
BVS does not have an office yet, and English doesn’t expect that to change any time soon. Once-a-week in-person lunch meetings suffice for now.
“The people working for us like the idea that it’s primarily remote,” English said.
Here’s what English likes about BVS: He’s focused on innovating, not operating, and the technology is consumer-facing, as opposed to being tailored for businesses. That’s a change from his days at Lola.
“You can meet a random person ... and show them what you built,” English said, “and they can use it immediately.”