Apple Confirms Acquisition of Early Music-Tech Startup Shazam

As a tech startup that uses an algorithm to help people find out what song is playing on the radio, Shazam is a business its co-founders say was ahead of its time in 2000—so much so that they developed the technology after they already started raising money and finding office space.

It was even ahead of the biggest inventions by perennial tech leader Apple; Shazam was operating three years before iTunes, seven years before the iPhone, and eight years before the App Store, co-founder Chris Barton noted in a 2015 interview. (The first version of the iPod, for what it’s worth, was released in 2001.)

And now, Apple is confirming that it has acquired London-based Shazam, though it didn’t disclose many details. TechCrunch, which first reported last week that a deal was in the works, today says the acquisition price was $400 million.

Shazam makes money largely through advertising and marketing for its partners, such as Apple, to which the company refers potential music listeners and buyers. The Guardian reported in 2016 that Shazam had reached profitability that year.

“Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users,” Cupertino, CA-based Apple wrote in a statement e-mailed to Xconomy and other media. “We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement.”

It may seem a surprise that news like this hadn’t happened earlier for Shazam, given the other widespread interest in music startups. Somerville, MA-based The Echo Nest, which was founded in 2005 and made Web-based music recommendations, was acquired by music streaming service Spotify in 2014 (Spotify’s U.S. headquarters are in New York).

In June, Oakland, CA-based Pandora announced it had received a $480 million investment from SiriusXM, after rejecting a buyout offer from Sirius, according to CNBC.

The purchase of Shazam also comes as Apple is preparing to launch its Siri-connected HomePod speaker competing with the likes of Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home, and other similar devices.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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