Anchor Can Now Find You a Cohost. But Why?

Late last week Anchor launched a new feature: Cohosts, which will match you with another Anchor user who wants to talk about the same topic as you.

My first reaction was… “WAT?” I couldn’t make sense of this feature and why Anchor would dedicate the considerable time and effort into building out a feature like this. Who would want, what was amusingly described to me as, “speed dating for cohosts?” Was there really a demand for this? Is this a problem that people are having?

After a few days of reflection maybe I’m perhaps coming around on the idea and I reminded myself that Chatroulette was huge in 2010. Let’s dig in!

As someone who spends hours making a 30 minute podcast each week, I really care about quality. And I struggle to understand the idea of putting out a conversation with a stranger that I’ve recorded on my iPhone. (Of course, Chris Gethard already does a podcast with that exact premise: Beautiful/Anonymous). What really got me thinking was when someone pointed out that Anchor are not going after quality content. They want any content. Which is obvious in hindsight; they aren’t focusing on the likes of us who already spend hours on making an episode, they want users who don’t know if they even want a podcast. Anchor’s aim is to build a User-Generated Content platform for all podcast content, a Reddit for audio. They don’t necessarily care about quality content, they want to empower anyone to start creating. Maybe this is the angle that Anchor is going for: a highly produced podcast about something I don’t care about is less interesting to me than a phone call between two people talking about something that I really care about.

But why does a cohost matching feature make any sense? And note that they are matching users to existing Anchor users. So this isn’t a feature that is directly driving growth. It must be something else… an engagement play? Can we drive users to create more engaging content? Or drive up consumption time? My uneducated guess: they looked at their stats and saw that the vast majority of episodes are made using a single host; users essentially recording a monologue which I suspect don’t perform that well. So they want to increase engagement and listen-time of their existing users. And having someone to talk to is a quick way to make better content.

Of course I’m probably over-analyzing this and it was just a cool thing that someone hacked together and they decided to ship.

While we’re on the subject of Anchor, a little note on their monetization plans, or lack thereof, from their CEO’s recent AMA:

Regarding monetizing the Anchor platform itself, that’s not something we’re working on at this point. As you called out there are several potential models for a company like Anchor and that could be something we look into in the future, but right now it’s really important to us that Anchor is 100% free. We’re supported by great investors, so right now we have the ability to put our efforts into just making the best product we can.