Audio entertainment startup Pocket FM has topped $160 million in annualized revenue runrate and is inching closer to raising over $80 million in a new funding round, three sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.
Lightspeed, an existing investor in Pocket FM, is in late stages of talks to lead the funding round into the Indian startup, the sources said, requesting anonymity as the matter is private. The investment giant is evaluating financing the round from both its India and U.S. arms, one of the sources said. The current deliberations value the startup at nearly $800 million, two of the sources said.
The funding deliberations follow a fast-paced revenue growth at the Indian startup, which offers serialized fiction and non-fiction content spanning genres like romance, self-help and motivation. Its current ARR is over $160 million, two of the sources said, a six-to-seven times increase over a year ago. Pocket FM had publicly set a goal of reaching an ARR of $100 million by 2023-end.
The startup’s expansion into the U.S., and offering customers a non-subscription, pay-as-you-go offering has proven especially successful, according to one of the sources.
Pocket FM — which also counts Tencent and Times Internet as backers and has raised about $93 million to date, according to venture insight platform Tracxn — operates on a freemium model, leveraging long-form episodic storytelling to give users the choice to pay only for content they prefer rather than the entire library.
This approach has allowed the startup to offer free access to episodes every 24 hours, with a fee for additional content. Since early 2022, the platform has employed a micro-transaction model, enabling users to purchase coins in local currency to redeem for episodes beyond the free quota. On average, listeners spend over 110 minutes daily on the platform, according to another person familiar with the matter.
Pocket FM and Lightspeed declined to comment Tuesday evening. Indian outlet Entrackr previously reported some of the funding details.