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Corporate America’s Love Affair with Podcasting

Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz in 2013.Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz in 2013.
Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz in 2013.Bryce Duffy

We’re well into the era of the mainstream podcast, the digital audio format steered into cultural prominence by massively popular series like Serial and Radiolab. (You know a format has reached peak mainstream when Hillary Clinton has one.) In the past few years, podcasts’ expanding audiences—Edison Research estimates that roughly 57 million Americans download a podcast every month—have turned the platform into an obvious destination for big business. Even Fortune is in on the game.

Here, a look at some of the companies that are making their own podcasts, or commissioning other people to make one for them:

Goldman Sachs

Since late-2014, the financial giant’s in-house podcast, Exchanges at Goldman Sachs, has supplied its share of wonky-cheesy episode titles, like “Brick and Mortal” (about e-commerce) and the seemingly Shakira-inspired “Whenever, Wherever—The New Model for Retail” (about retail). Goldman (GS) uses its podcast as part-public service, part-advertisement for the market knowhow the firm sells its clients, with various Goldman analysts offering “insights on developments currently shaping markets, industries, and the global economy.” A recent episode dealing with innovation in various sectors featured discussion on topics such as lasers and “mutant mosquitoes.”

Read More: Phoebe Robinson’s New Podcast Puts Women and People of Color in the Spotlight

▸ eBay

The online marketplace partnered with Gimlet Creative to bolster listeners’ entrepreneurial spirits with podcast series this summer called Open for Business. Each of the six episodes offered tips from successful entrepreneurs for small-business owners, from how to get started to promoting a fledgling brand. Of course, the branded podcast also plugs eBay, noting the site’s role in the gig economy as “one of the first platforms for would-be entrepreneurs.”

General Electric

Easily the most abstract example of branded content on this list; GE (GE) co-produced a fictional sci-fi narrative podcast last year with Slate magazine’s podcast platform, Panoply Media. Called The Message, the series was popular with listeners, as more than a million people downloaded the podcast about cryptologists decoding a decades-old alien transmission. While the show never explicitly prods listeners to buy GE products, the series’ writer reportedly said the plot was inspired, in part, by GE’s work on sound-based medical technology.

For more on podcasting, watch this video:

▸ Andreessen Horowitz

Co-founders Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz are occasional guests on the a16z Podcast, the program produced by the powerhouse Silicon Valley VC firm that cashed out on startups like Instagram, Skype, and Oculus VR. The podcast features semi-weekly discussions on topics of interest to software developers and startup founders, ranging from emoji and Pokémon Go to complex system design.


Last December, the popular streaming service sponsored a one-off podcast episode (also with Panoply) featuring the creators of Netflix’s hit true-crime docuseries, Making a Murderer. They talk about everything from Steven Avery’s now famous incarcerations to the cultural fascination with true crime stories and the public’s passionate response to their hit Netflix series (NFLX).

A version of this article appears in the September 15, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “Why Big Business Loves Podcasting.”