8tracks, the New York City-based Internet radio startup, is poised to make the shift from bootstrapped passion project to full-on, full-time business.
With the launch of its first iPhone app Monday, 8tracks users can now listen to the company’s personally curated mixtape-style playlists on the go. An Android app is also in the works and is slated for release later this year, CEO David Porter said in an interview with GigaOM Monday.
But it turns out the company’s move into mobile is just one part of a much larger growth plan: 8tracks is in the midst of discussions with a number of potential investors, and is currently considering a Series A venture capital raise of up to $5 million, Porter told me. The company also plans to move its headquarters to San Francisco in the coming weeks to further support its aggressive fundraising and tech development roadmap, he said.
The funding talks mark a definite inflection point for the company which has thus far operated as a highly ambitious side project. Currently, most of 8tracks’ 15-person team works part-time on an equity, non-cash basis. “Most people on our team have day jobs, so they work on 8tracks during nights and weekends,” Porter said, pointing out that even his co-founder, Rémi Gabillet, works full-time as a software engineer at Google. “We’ve existed somewhere between a startup and an open source project.”
In some ways, limited resources have contributed to 8tracks’ success, forcing the company to be extremely thoughtful when taking on partners and implementing new features. But the constraints have also forced 8tracks to grow “in dog years,” Porter said, noting that the iPhone app released today was in development for nearly a year. With 8tracks currently surpassing 2 million unique visitors a month and an Android app set to debut this summer, it’s definitely time for 8tracks to raise the kind of money that would allow it to bring on a full-time team and move at a faster clip.
With just $300,000 of seed funding to its name, 8tracks has slowly and steadily emerged as the industry’s reigning Internet mixtape startup (I’ve taken to thinking of it as the tortoise to Muxtape’s hare.) With a proven track record of fiscally responsible growth, a spotless legal record in regards to music licensing, and the February filing for an initial public offering by Internet radio pioneer Pandora, 8tracks could well become a very popular visitor to Sand Hill Road in the weeks ahead.