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Acast, a podcast monetization and distribution platform, announced a new partnership with JioSaavn, one of the largest streaming audio services in India. The agreement mean JioSaavn will distribute content from Acast and have access to its technology for podcasters.

JioSaavn, which claims 104 million monthly active users, is the second-largest streaming audio service in India after Gaana, and holds about 24% market share, according to an OTT Audience Measurement Insights report.

Podcasts from Acast’s network will be added to JioSaavn’s streaming app over the next two months. Based in Sweden, Acast focuses on developing ways to help podcasters monetize, including subscription paywalls and dynamic ads. Publishers on Acast’s network include the Guardian, BBC, the Financial Times and PBS NewsHour.

JioSaavn launched original programming in 2016, including JioSaavn podcasts, which it says now has more than 200 hours of original content.

In a press statement, Ishani Dasgupta, JioSaavn’s lead of podcast partnerships, said, “Podcasting is still largely nascent to consumers in the Indian market, with momentum growing quickly. The ability to grow and build new audiences, new shows and establish pathways for brands to access both is really just beginning for our 1.3 billion potential consumer market.”


TechCrunch

UrbanClap, a marketplace for freelance labor in India and the UAE, has raised $ 75 million in a new financing round to expand its business.

The Series E round for the four-and-a-half-year old India-based startup was led Tiger Global. Existing investors Steadview Capital, which led the startup’s Series D in December last year, and Vy Capital also participated in the current round. The startup, which has raised about $ 185 million to date, said some early investors sold portions of their stake as part of the new round.

Through its platform, UrbanClap matches service people such as cleaners, repair staff and beauticians with customers across 10 cities in India and Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The startup supports 20,000 “micro-franchisees” (service professionals) with around 450,000 transactions taking place each month, cofounder and CEO Abhiraj Bhal told TechCrunch.

Bhal said that UrbanClap helps offline service workers, who have traditionally relied on getting work through middleman such as some store or word of mouth networks, to find more work. And they earn more, too. UrbanClap offers a more direct model, with workers keeping 80% of the cost of their jobs. That, Bhal said, means workers can earn multiples more and manage their own working hours.

“The UrbanClap model really allows them to become service entrepreneurs. Their earnings will shoot up two or three-fold, and it isn’t uncommon to see it rise as much as 8X — it’s a life-changing experience,” he said. Average value of a service is between $ 17 to $ 22, according to the company.

In recent years, UrbanClap has also started to offer training, credit, and basic banking services to better support the service workers on its platform. On its website, UrbanClap claims to offer 73 services — including kitchen cleaning, hairdressing, and yoga training. It says it has served 3 million customers.

Bhal said that around 20-25% of applicants are accepted into the platform, that’s a decision based on in-person meetings, background and criminal checks, as well as a “skills” test. Workers are encouraged to work exclusively — though it isn’t a requirement — and they wear UrbanClap outfits and represent the brand with customers.


TechCrunch

Thumbtack just closed a new funding round of $ 150 million. Sequoia is leading the round, and the company is now valued at $ 1.7 billion. TechCrunch’s Kate Clark previously reported that the startup was raising again, but that it was a tough process.

In a candid blog post, co-founder and CEO Marco Zappacosta admits that the company faced multiple challenges. Thumbtack started as a simple marketplace for local professionals.

Clients could post a message saying that they were looking for carpenters, wedding planners or house cleaning services. Professionals then scrolled through listings and sent quotes. Customers eventually picked a professional.

While it was a huge hit, it didn’t scale well and created a ton of issues. “We took a business that was growing more than 80% year over year and we pressed pause,” Zappacosta wrote.

The startup rewrote the back end, created a new front end, pivoted to a new business model and essentially created a new product.

Thumbtack now automatically generates quotes based on your needs and your location. Given that you can get quotes in a few minutes, it didn’t make sense to charge professionals every time they send a quote. Now, professionals pay Thumbtack a small fee when customers contact them after a quote.

“Now growth has reaccelerated dramatically, and we have the runway to make Thumbtack the only platform they need to find the right customers,” Zappacosta wrote.

So it sounds like Thumbtack has seen the light at the end of the tunnel. With today’s new funding round, the company can now focus on attracting service providers again. According to the Wall Street Journal, this could be the last funding round before Thumbtack files to go public.


TechCrunch

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