Serial entrepreneur Paul English has sold his latest venture, podcast discovery app Moonbeam, to one of the nation’s largest radio station operators, with the intention of investing the proceeds in his incubator of newly launched startups.
English declined to say how much money Audacy (formerly Entercom) paid for the Moonbeam app, though he said it would be enough to fund Boston Venture Studio’s operations for two years. Moonbeam technology, English said, will likely be the centerpiece of Audacy’s podcast technology (although the Moonbeam name will likely go away).
For English, the sale of Moonbeam, about a year after its launch, marks the sixth such transaction he has completed from a startup he has 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 run Boston Light (sold to Intuit), InterMute (acquired by Trend Micro), and GetHuman (sold to two of its executives). He co-founded Lola.com, a travel tech company, in 2015 and eventually sold that tech to Capital One last year, before embarking on his venture studio venture.
Going forward, Boston Venture Studio’s 11-person team will focus on other consumer-facing apps, including Deets, which English positions as a restaurant recommendation app, and Reki, which helps friends share what they are watching on television. (None of the BVS employees left with the sale of Moonbeam.) English and his team, which includes former Kayak and Lola collaborator Paul Schwenk, are currently working on nine apps, with the goal of transforming two or three in real business by the end of the year. The BVS group, a mix of people based in the Boston area and New York, works with a team of about 30 engineers at a Pakistani company called Arbisoft.
“We try to learn from each other so that a lot of the core technology from one app gets used in the second app,” English said.
English said he’s in the process of finding a CEO for Deets, though there’s no guarantee whoever he finds will be based in Boston.
BVS doesn’t have an office yet, and English doesn’t expect that to change anytime soon. In-person lunch meetings once a week are enough for now.
“People who work for us like the idea that it’s mostly remote,” English said.
Here’s what English likes about BVS: it’s focused on innovation, not exploitation, and the technology is consumer-oriented, rather than business-friendly. It’s a change from his days at Lola.
“You can meet a random person…and show them what you’ve built,” English said, “and they can use it immediately.”