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Photo of Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones, Photo credit: Olivia May

Blue Wire, a sports podcast company, has raised $5 million in its series A round, founder Kevin Jones tell Axios.

Why it matters: The company, which focuses on long-form sports narrative podcasts and conversational podcasts, now hosts more than 140 podcasts with over 20 million downloads for the year. It has $1.5 million in 2020 revenue via sponsorship partnerships via brands like Chevy and Visa.

Details: The round is being led by Dot Capital, which led its $1.2 million seed round in February. Dot is being joined by Bettor Capital, Side Door Ventures and Forty5 Ventures.

  • "Kevin's been delivering over the past 10 months on everything he said he was going to deliver," says Joe Saviano, Managing Director at Dot Capital. "When someone does that, you reward them."

The money will be used to hire out an executive team and to bring on editorial talent. It's actively looking to fill COO and CMO roles.

  • Blue Wire is specifically focused on highlighting minority and female voices in sports.
  • 35% of its podcasters are people of color. Sports media and sports audio is predominantly white and male.
  • "I was inspired by Blue Wire's ambitions to deviate from the traditional sports media outlets," says Haley O'Shaughnessy, who joined Blue Wire from The Ringer and noted the company's emphasis on giving a platform to women in media.

The money will also be used to build out the company's studio and to finance the creation of a yearly slate of 8-10 original podcast series.

  • The company is working with the United Talent Agency to pitch some of its original long-form podcasts to be optioned for film and TV, including its hit original series American Prodigy, which Jones says has caught the attention of Hollywood studios and literary agents.
  • "Podcasting is becoming the new books," says Jones. "We are going to lean into that unlike anyone else in sports right now."

The bottom line: Sports audio as a whole is booming but there still isn't a go-to place for most athletes, pro teams and sports media personalities to make and monetize their own high-quality audio content.

Go deeper

Jan 25, 2021 - Economy & Business

Audio messaging platform Yac raises $7.5M Series A

Yac

Yac, an online voice messaging platform, has raised $7.5 million in venture funding led by GGV Capital and the Slack Fund, which funded the app last year.

Why it matters: Yac helps companies integrate audio messaging into their workflow. It launched at the beginning of the pandemic and has benefitted enormously from companies needed improved communication during remote work.

2 hours ago - World

Report: LGBTQ+ Afghans' lives "dramatically worsened" under Taliban rule

Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this month. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

LGBTQ+ Afghans have been threatened, attacked and "faced an increasingly desperate situation and grave threats to their safety" since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last August, per a report published Wednesday.

What they're saying: "We spoke with LGBT Afghans who have survived gang rape, mob attacks, or have been hunted by their own family members who joined the Taliban, and they have no hope that state institutions will protect them," per a statement from study co-author J. Lester Feder.

3 hours ago - World

Canadian Indigenous group finds 93 suspected unmarked graves

A makeshift memorial honoring the 215 children whose remains were found in a mass grave in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, last May. Photo: Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

Indigenous leaders in Canada's western province of British Columbia said Tuesday they believe they've found 93 unmarked graves near a former boarding school.

The big picture: Hundreds of mass graves have been found at the grounds of former residential schools for Indigenous children since last May, when the remains of 215 children were uncovered at one such site in B.C.