On Wednesday, Spotify announced it had acquired both New York City-based startup Cord Project and Dublin-based music discovery startup Soundwave.
In its announcement of the two new purchases, Spotify stayed vague, only saying it would use the companies it acquired to build “engaging and innovative music experiences.”
The Cord Project will be shutting down its main service, which lets anyone send 12-second voice messages to one person or several people at a time. (Soundwave CEO Brendan O’Driscoll has also said his company’s service will likely shut down eventually too.)
“It’s clearly mostly an expertise and talent acquisition,” said Cord Project CEO Thomas Gayno, speaking to us on the phone. “
We’re really excited about all this.”
“We built our product to get people talking again. We let people save the messages they love — these very emotional messages. And we can’t really keep the product up and running without funds and time dedicated to it,” Gayno told us.
“We’re going to let people download their favourite saved messages on an MP3 format, instead of shutting down and saying ‘Goodbye everyone, thanks’ — we felt that was the most compelling way to underline the emotional mission we’ve always had when building Cord.”
Over the next few days, Cord will let its one-million users download their most-loved messages. After that, the Gayno and cofounder Jeff Baxter will shut down the product, removing the app from both the Apple App Store and from Google Play.
The Cord application is not going to be integrated into Spotify. Instead, Gayno says, he, Baxter, and Cord’s three senior engineers will move over to Spotify’s New York offices to work with a team of other engineers and designers, creating “very nice, beautiful products at a very fast pace.”
“The experience we acquired at Google was also pretty telling in terms of making the Spotify VPs and management feel like we would be qualified to innovate at a very fast pace in a bigger structure,” Gayno says.
The terms of the acquisition haven’t been disclosed. But Gayno says the deal took just six weeks from beginning to end. Gayno and Baxter first met with Shiva Rajaraman, VP of consumer products at Spotify. “Instantly, we clicked,” he says. “The conversation was pretty magical.”
Prior to starting the Cord Project, Gayno had been working at Google for several years.
Gayno and his fellow Googler Jeff Baxter had spent a lot of time working with the company’s secretive project lab Google X, building products like Google Glass and Android Wear. They thought a lot about wearables, and how we interact with them.
One day, while Gayno and his wife were both at work, he got a text message containing an audio file from the nanny of his 20-month-old daughter.
When he finally downloaded the file as an MP3 and fired up his media player, he heard his daughter June say some of her first words: “I miss you, Papa.”
“It was beautiful. Her first few words — she’s saying she misses me,” Gayno recalls. “I was shocked by how I was going through all of these emotions, just because of a voice. This phone, this thing, is bringing tears to my eyes, even though I just had a miserable user experience — because, oh my god, how great is that? June can’t read. She can’t type. She speaks a mix of French and English. But she and the nanny left me this message.”
Gayno and Baxter, who started working at Google’s New York office on the same day back in 2009, then quit on the same day in April 2014. From there, the two quickly started working on Cord.
The two raised a seed round of funding last summer with Google Ventures, Greycroft, Metamorphic Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Slow Ventures, and a slew of angel investors. They build out a small team of just more than half a dozen people in New York City. In September 2014, they launched a prototype on iOS, and in December 2014, launched Cord on iOS and Android.
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