Odeo Giving It Another Go

Odeo, a podcast directory founded in 2005 by Evan Williams of Blogger and Twitter fame that was acquired by SonicMountain over a year ago, has relaunched with a completely new design and slew of features.

The biggest addition to the site is video. Odeo now features millions of syndicated audio and video episodes aggregated from over 500,000 channels. Odeo has partnered with major content publishers like Revision3 and NextNewNetworks, and Blip.tv to fill its catalog.

Odeo has also improved its social side by enabling users to create profile pages, subscribe to preferred channels, and create playlists. Users can browse by keyword or category to get recommendations, leading to better content discovery. Users can also share content via email or embed it into blogs and social networks.

In addition to the content partnerships, Odeo has joined up with a startup called MatchMine to use its MatchKey service. MatchKey is a partner network that takes users’ preferences and distributes them across a network of sites to enable better personalized recommendations.

Odeo is currently working to bring back an upgraded version Odeo’s Studio, its free in-browser podcast recording service (we weren’t impressed with the old version). Its new development team will also add features like the ability to sync with portable devices and comment on videos and audio files. FireAnt, another podcast directory that competed with Odeo before getting acquired by it, was best-known for its desktop media player. Odeo has plans to bring back this player as well and distribute it as a white-labeled media player for enterprises.

We first covered Odeo in June 2005 when it was still in private beta. After about a year of struggling with competitors (most notably Apple’s iTunes), Williams launched a now-well-known startup, then called Twttr, in July 2006.

In September 2006, Williams bought Odeo back from its investors and started a new company called Obvious. Under Obvious, Williams held both Odeo and Twitter as wholly-owned subsidiaries. Odeo was then put up for sale in February 2007 and sold at a loss to Sonic Mountain a few months later. SonicMountain proceeded to acquire FireAnt and Blogdigger, a blog search engine. Odeo has since raised $2.5 million from private investors, and this is the first improvement we’ve seen since SonicMountain has taken over.

Odeo committed a number of mistakes the first time around, several of them openly admitted by Williams himself. Will Odeo’s new development team learn from these mistakes and guide Odeo to a brighter future? They are entering the video space, which is very competitive and is not as forgiving of mistakes. Best of luck, Odeo.