May 24, 2012 at 10:00 AM EDT
SoundCloud is targeting mobile, tablet… and TV?
Eric Wahlforss, the co-founder of sound-sharing platform SoundCloud tells GigaOM where the company is going -- including a new mobile-friendly version and the potential for TV integration -- and explains what it's like being an impromptu ambassador for the Berlin startup scene.
In the Berlin startup scene, it’s not hard to see who’s the daddy. While a few firms such as ResearchGate are world-beaters in their niches, nobody has the brand recognition and popular appeal of SoundCloud.
With a huge front-end revamp currently in private beta, the YouTube of sound is bracing itself for a fresh push. I caught up with co-founder and product dev chief Eric Wahlforss to discuss SoundCloud’s direction and what it’s like being an ambassador for Berlin.
Meyer: What’s the main goal in the ‘Next’ revamp — to make SoundCloud prettier?
It’s a bit more social than before, right?
SoundCloud is a social form very similar to something like YouTube or Flickr — we try and integrate wherever it makes sense. We have a very strong integration with Facebook’s Timeline. There’s some controversy around some of those integrations now, but those are specifically around watching and reading. That’s maybe not working so well, but for sound it works really well.
It sounds like you’re going more down the consumption route there. How do you see the split between consumers and creators evolving for SoundCloud?
I think that’s where our strength is — maybe, as we grow, the percentages might shift around a bit, but the creators will continue to be the core. We have platform integration with GarageBand and Ableton Live, and we have an app that just launched now, Tabletop, that has a mini version of SoundCloud built into it, so if you share something the music is part of that microcommunity.
What we’ve done with Next is broaden out into the curator space. There are two new features. Reposting — that in itself is hugely powerful. We’ve not rolled it out to a large audience yet, but we’re already seeing strong network effects. That’s going to be a huge amplifier. The other thing we’re doing is we have something called sets, and in the new [version] you can add any sound from any other user.
That goes into playlisting a bit. Do you see Spotify as a rival there?
You mean podcasts and sound library stuff?
Where is SoundCloud going to be in two years’ time?
I bet the drop in data roaming costs will help you there.
Are you looking at staying independent, and who do you see as competition right now?
On the independence question, we don’t have any plans to do any exit or IPO in the near future. We’re still very much focused on growing our platform and community. As a company, it feels like we’re just at the beginning of things – it’s only the last year or so that things have really shown scale.
When you go out to the Valley, do you feel like an ambassador for Berlin?
But is Berlin living up to that hype?
The only place where it’s clear we’re not there yet is the Bay Area. There they have a whole different type of infrastructure, a whole different level of financing. Here, to a large extent, the capital is still missing, but the good thing is London is close by. You can even find U.S. venture capital in the meantime.
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