Automattic, owner of WordPress, buys Pocket Casts from NPR, for “deep integrations”

Automattic, parent company of WordPress has acquired podcast listening app Pocket Casts from NPR and a consortium of public stations. Finances are not disclosed.

The company plans to create integrations with its blogging platform WordPress, according to its public announcement:


“We will explore building deep integrations with and Pocket Casts, making it easier to distribute and listen to podcasts.” –Automattic announcement.


This is Automattic/WordPress’s second headline dive into podcasting. The company previously established a partnership with Spotify-owned Anchor, enabling blog posts to become podcast episodes through text-to-speech features.

Pocket Casts co-founders Russell Ivanovic and Philip Simpson will continue to lead Pocket Casts as part of Automattic.

Pocket Casts was acquired by a public radio group in May, 2018. (RAIN coverage HERE.) NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago, and This American Life were principles in that acquisition. A steady drumbeat of new features followed. Then-CEO Owen Grover (ex-iHeartMedia and a RAIN Summit speaker) departed in March of last year.

In our view Pocket Casts has sharply defined and useful features, but any indie podcast listening app faces gale-force competitive headwinds in a field dominated by Apple, Spotify, and Google. Integration with an organization that can put the app into a tech stack which includes the world’s dominant blogging platform makes a lot of sense.


Brad Hill