Tuning In — The Final Frontier for Enterprise

Announcing CRV’s Investment in Storyboard

Now that we’re just two weeks away from the end of 2020 — the infamous pandemic year — it’s worth reflecting back on the myriad ways our lifestyles have changed — perhaps permanently. More online workout classes, more cooking, more virtual visits, more screen time, more video conferences, and… way more podcasts. Our collective voracious appetite for podcasts is why I’m excited about CRV’s $4.5 million investment in Storyboard. Storyboard is an enterprise podcast and audio platform that over 1,700 companies around the world (including Delta Air Lines, DHL, HelloFresh and many others) are relying on to stitch their workforces together.

The podcast world, most often a vestige of the commuter experience — showed no signs of stopping even after our commuting did. In fact, despite an almost complete halt to the world of public transportation, podcasts became our at-home entertainment sidekick. These spoken words often come across as more colorful, and strangely more intimate than the video — which left us fatigued and overwhelmed. Spotify, a heavy acquisitor in the space, also reported that more than 21 percent of Spotify listeners now use it for podcasts, and that the podcast content they are consuming has more than doubled.

The consumerization of the enterprise is not a new trend — some of the most innovative software companies in the world have borrowed meaningful design and workflow decisions from the consumer world:

  • Video Messaging

But the ability to record, distribute, and track the engagement on an internal podcast is hard to do. Most businesses want to build this functionality into their internal communications toolkit, but are unable to find one tool that aggregates this functionality easily. Podcasts are an indisputable part of our consumer lives, why haven’t they made the jump over to enterprise?

Which brings me to Storyboard, an incredible team and product that joined the CRV family today. Storyboard solves this problem in a world where more businesses are trying to communicate better and more effectively with their remote workforce. Even in pre-pandemic times, the distributed workforce is quadrupling and fewer workers are sitting at their desks, primed to read an email to attend a video conference. Audio is seamless, unattached, and therefore more powerful. Emma Rodera, a communications professor, told The Atlantic: “Audio is one of the most intimate forms of media because you are constantly building your own images of the story in your mind and you’re creating your own production.”

When I met JP Gooderham — the founder of Storyboard- for the first time, his energy was contagious. Having commuted down the 101 for seven years on the Google bus, he was used to reading pages and pages of company wide emails, project overviews, and dialing into video conferences (even pre-pandemic!). It was hard to concentrate, manage, and feel connected, despite being “hyper-connected.” The feeling he got at the end of the day, plugging in one of his favorite podcasts, was an altogether different feeling. It felt like going on a walk with a colleague — more intimate, more personal, more important — it was a feeling that he wanted to extend to businesses and employees all around the world.

Storyboard was founded in November 2019, and in just over a year thousands of large companies like Abbott Pharma and DHL have already come to rely on Storyboard to keep their employees connected and informed. Tired of low open rates on emails, and video call drop-offs — they want their workforce to feel engaged and valued. Employees are raving about the experience:

“There is a draw towards audio for a sense of intimacy and the ability to consume in a less expensive way in terms of attention. There is too much video saturation in companies these days.”

“We’ve only been customers for 3 months and 500 people are on the platform”

“We keep video for much more condensed messages. Podcasts are different — they hit the company all at once.”

“We have a distributed workforce, and today our training is not mobile. You can’t really watch video in a car. We want people to listen to training content on the go, which is easy to access mid job.”

What’s even more extraordinary is that Storyboard works across multiple organizations within a business. JP and his team often begin working with the Head of Communications or Marketing — but then Storyboard quickly gets adopted across the organization from the executive team, to engineering stand ups, and even amongst compliance teams for training across the organization. It truly spreads through the company virally — as the new, audio-focused communication platform. Below you can see a quick glimpse of this extraordinary growth:

Storyboard Seats Over Time, since inception of Company

I’m thrilled to join the board at Storyboard, and excited to partner with other incredible investors like Operator Partners, Dave Ambrose, Matt Ziskie, and The Slack Fund. Harry Stebbings, the King of Podcasts himself, also joined the round as an angel investor!

We, at CRV, believe audio is the future — and we can’t be more excited to be on this journey with JP and the rest of the Storyboard team.

P.S. We are hiring :)

GP @CRV, Alum @HarvardHBS @Stanford. I like a bagel with attitude.