Spotify Buys Cord Project And Soundwave To Expand Messaging And Social Features


Image Credits:

On the same day that streaming rival Deezer announced a new cash injection of €100 million, Spotify has confirmed two new acquisitions, Cord Project and Soundwave. The startups are based respectively in New York and Dublin and focus on social and messaging. The acquisitions point to Spotify possibly ramping up its social features — specifically in areas like messaging.

But that will not include voice messaging, which is one of the pieces of technology that Cord Project built. “We are excited about the talent the Cord team brings to Spotify especially as it relates to design and audio experiences,” Spotify said. “This acquisition is not specifically about voice messaging and there are no plans to enter that space.”

The terms of the deals are not being disclosed but are likely to be on the modest side. Soundwave was backed by the likes of Mark Cuban and had raised less than $3 million; Cord Project, co-founded by ex-Googlers, raised under $2 million with backers including Lerer Hippeau and Metamorphic.

Spotify is not commenting on how it plans to use the technology and talent that it is picking up today, except to note in a short statement that it’s to boost its product and engineering capabilities.

“Spotify is laser focused on delivering innovative and engaging music discovery experiences to delight our millions of users,” said Shiva Rajaraman, Spotify’s VP of Product, in a statement. “The acquisitions of both Cord Project and Soundwave give us the opportunity to bring two extremely talented and like-minded teams into the Spotify family. We’re excited to welcome them on board, and are looking forward to their contributions in shaping the future of music engagement.”

To be clear, Spotify already has a way for people to message each other in the app, but what Soundwave and Cord Project will bring to the company are teams that have been focused on how to develop innovative ways to insert communications into platforms that may not be focused solely on that purpose.

The reason this is interesting for Spotify is that it could help the service be more of a platform for its 75 million users. As we wrote last week when Spotify announced a deal with Genius — where the annotations company will provide lyrics, observations and artists’ thoughts that will pop up as the music is played — Spotify can use features like this to make its app less of a background tool and more of something that people can actively look at while they’re listening to the music.

The same goes for messaging features. If you’re on your own listening to music, having a messaging option to discuss a track with a friend — or simply someone else who happens to be listening to it at the exact same time — could add a different dimension to the experience. It also harkens back to the very old concept of music being a social medium.

Adding more features to increase the functionality of Spotify could also help with monetizing, either by charging to use those features or including them in premium tiers; or by using them as vehicles for potential ads, or to help boost engagement metrics to help with advertising elsewhere. For Spotify, which focuses on audio ads, having more visual property could help boost other kinds of formats.

We have described Soundwave in the past as developing a “watercooler” for music fans, by both tracking what you listen to, what your friends listen to, and then using algorithms to suggest music based on that while also providing a messaging platform to discuss your playlists.

Interestingly, the trick behind Soundwave has been to do this by way of big data analytics, and drawing information from across multiple streaming sites, some 20 services in all including Spotify. The service picked up some 1.5 users of its app and a number of accolades from the likes of Apple. For now, Spotify is not saying what it plans to do with the existing service. “We are evaluating next steps but have nothing to announce right now,” a Spotify spokesperson told TechCrunch.

When we tried out Cord Project a little more than a year ago, co-founder and CEO Thomas Gayno said his aim was to combine what’s good about voice calls (emotion and nuance) with the advantages of text (speed and asynchronous communication).

Gayno said five out of the seven Cord Project team members will be joining Spotify — Gayno himself, his co-founder Jeff Baxter and three senior engineers. (In addition to their time at Cord, Gayno and Baxter also worked together at Google’s Creative Lab.) According to the acquisition release, the team “will build a product group [at Spotify] focused on creating compelling content experiences.”

The Cord app, plus other apps that the startup launched, will be shutting down, though Gayno promised that users will be able to download their “most emotional messages” in the coming weeks.

More TechCrunch

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo