Blue Wire is upping the financial ante in the podcast wars.
But instead of going through the traditional investor route, the five-year-old company will enable private investors to join the ownership ranks during a new community financing round, according to founder and chief executive officer Kevin Jones.
In partnership with Wefunder, the company is poised to announce its latest fundraising round today. The goal: raise $1 million at a $25 million valuation cap.
“I’m a grassroots, independent type of entrepreneur. We’ve gotten here by all this participation in our network. We want to add a participation channel for potential investors,” Jones told Front Office Sports. “We think we might surprise ourselves.”
Since 2020, Blue Wire has raised $12 million in funding from various sources, including ex-NBA star Baron Davis, venture capitalists, and Wynn Resorts.
It’s not completely turning away from its VC roots. But it wants to pursue a Substack-like strategy for this new financing round. And invite everyone — from listeners, athletes, creators, and journalists — to become investors.
“We’re getting off the venture capital model. We’ll always listen there — but we really want to grab the bull by its horns. There’s 3 million (people) listening to Blue Wire monthly. We want to put the message out to them: Anyone can invest in this round. It can be as little as $100,” said Jones. “Substack just did a round like this in the spring. They were able to raise $7 million from 6,000 individual investors. So we’re breaking down the walls.”
Blue Wire now boasts an audience of 3 million unique monthly listeners and 120 million annual downloads and carries over 300 shows and 500 creators. Over the past year, it forged strategic partnerships with Action Network and Fubo Sports. But the company lost $5 million on $8.4 million in revenue in 2022.
Jones believes there’s strength in numbers. It has to keep growing and become profitable to compete with publishers many times its size. He also believes his personal story as a former San Francisco 49ers beat reporter who bounced back from a layoff to launch his own company is part of Blue Wire’s appeal.
“People are still rooting for the underdog here. We’re an independent, smaller media organization competing against iHeart and Colin Cowherd, DraftKings and Dan LeBatard, Spotify and Bill Simmons,” Jones said. I think there’s people out there who root for independents vs. bigger box players. We think we’re scrappy independents. Like a Gonzaga or a TCU.”
Greg Olsen, the current No. 1 NFL TV analyst for Fox Sports, helped make his bones in the media business by hosting a tight end-focused podcast dubbed TE1 for Blue Wire in 2020.
Angel investors like Davis, the former NBA All-Star turned television analyst for TNT, like what they see so far from Blue Wire.
“They care about what they’re building,” Davis said in a statement.