So yesterday it was announced that Google has purchased Songza. Congratulations to Elias Roman and his colleagues. They build a great product and sold it to a great company.
But I’d like to take a second to tell the story of Songza as I know it. I am sure there are lots of parts of this story that I don’t know but the parts I do know make for a great story and now is a good time to tell it.
A few Brown University students had a great idea in 2006. They felt that mp3s should be priced based on demand not on a fixed price. So they started a company called Amie Street and built that service.
I first met them at some point after they had graduated from Brown and moved to NYC. I liked the idea a lot but was hesitant to invest. Others were not and they raised some money and chased that dream.
At some point Amazon got involved, I think as an investor. The Amie Street model ultimately did not pan out and in 2010 it was sold to Amazon. I don’t know the terms of that transaction but it did allow the team to stay together and work on a something else.
Long before the sale to Amazon, in October of 2008, Amie Street acquired Songza, a music app that was built by Aza Raskin and Scott Robbin.
After the sale of Amie Stree to Amazon, the team focused on Songza and iterated on it for a few years until they landed on the concierge user interface that helped popularize Songza.
I started using Songza in early 2012 and have been actively using it ever since.
I have three modes for listening to music and a primary services for each.
Passive – Songza, Intent Based – Rdio, Discovery/Social – SoundCloud. I use Songza the way most people use Pandora. And I use it mostly on my various Sonos systems.
But back to the story of Songza. Over time Songza built a popular music service and they raised some more capital in the fall of last year. We spent some time with them during that process but we were already knee deep in online music with Turntable (RIP) and SoundCloud.
Every interaction I’ve had with the Songza team has been fantastic. They are great people. And every interaction I’ve had with the Songza service has been equally good. Which furthers my view that great people build great products.
I wasn’t surprised to see that they sold to Google. The streaming music business is hard. And the big platforms understand that music is a great audience builder and retainer. And Google has been a great home to great products (YouTube, Android, Nest, etc).
So that’s the end of my story. It has a happy ending.
If there is a moral to this story it is that tenacity pays off. The Songza team graduated from college eight years ago and worked on two separate services over that time with a fair bit of success and failure. They hung together and built something that is very good. And they got a good exit. As JLM would say “well played.”