UK’s Independent Podcast Company Novel Secures £5 Million From VGC Partners

Multi award-wining premium podcast production company Novel has closed its Series A round, securing a £5 million investment growth from capital investor VGC Partners.

Founded in 2019 by Sean Glynn (CEO) and co-owned with Max O’Brian (Chief Content Officer) and Matt O’Mara (Managing Director), Novel has grown rapidly to become the biggest independent podcast company in Europe.

Specializing in cinematic longform narrative series and investigative journalism, Novel has strategically positioned itself to capitalise on the global boom in podcasting. The number of podcast listeners worldwide has rocketed from 274.8 million when the company launched in 2019, and is predicted to nearly double to 504.9 million by the end of 2024 (eMarketer 2021). All indications point to the continuation of this prodigious growth.

Novel stands out as the clear industry leader in audio, having struck UK-first deals with the world’s leading podcasting networks including iHeartRadio, Wondery, and Gimlet, while also producing series for the BBC, The Financial Times, Google, and The Premier League.

The quality of Novel’s work has attracted industry-leading talent on both sides of the Atlantic. The 50-strong global team includes Executive Creative Director Julie Shapiro (formerly VP of Editorial at PRX & Radiotopia), Creative Director of Production Austin Mitchell (formerly Senior Producer at The New York Times and Gimlet), and Head of TV and Film Neil Krishnan (formerly Director of Creative Acquisitions at Universal Studio Group).

Novel’s £5 million investment from VGC will be used to accelerate growth with strategic partners, and to establish the company’s own network of originals. Premium podcast IP is increasingly being adapted into TV and film, given the ability to build sizable audiences far more efficiently than an audio-visual pilot or a book.

As a growth capital investor, VGC Partners bridges the gap between venture capital and private equity – typically investing between £5m and £10m to support digital media, tech and consumer companies. This investment in Novel builds on VGC’s experience of backing IP – and content-rick businesses with the quality and cultural relevance to have longevity and to translate across formats and continents.

Sean Glynn, Novel’s Founder and CEO, said: “At Novel, we’re proud to have built a thriving independent business. Now the time is right to take the skills we’ve honed working with industry-leading partners and apply them to content we fully own. We’ve recruited a highly experienced international team to deliver a rich and varied slate of original shows. The launch of our own originals network is an exciting new step for Novel and in VGC we’ve found a partner that truly believes in our content and our vision.”

Dan Rockwood, VGC Operating Partner & Head of Brand, added: “Novel prides itself on being both fiercely creative and fiercely commercial. We see huge opportunity for Novel in the creation of premium original content IP and particular potential in the adaptation of these shows into TV and film. We were blown away by the pipeline of ideas that Novel has lined up and we’re excited that our investment will now enable so many of them to go into production. You heard it here forms. And you’ll be seeing it on screens next.”

Novel Announces Neil Krishnan As Head Of TV And Film

Novel, the UK-based studio that has become Europe’s largest independent podcast producer on the back of a host of acclaimed, award-winning and globally chart-topping podcasts made for partners including Wondery, iHeart, Spotify, Amazon, the BBC and more, announces the hiring of Neil Krishnan as their new Head of TV and Film. Krishnan joins from his role as Director of Creative Acquisitions for Universal Studio Group, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies.

Krishnan brings a keen eye for exceptional stories and the creative vision necessary to shepherd the company’s slate of audio projects into the Hollywood landscape. As Director of Creative Acquisitions for Universal Studio group, he was instrumental in finding and landing undeniable IP across NBCUniversal’s four television studios and approximately 200 talent deals, and was a key player in closing several competitive IP projects across books, graphics novels, and podcasts.

Previously, Krishnan worked as a creative executive at Erik Feig’s PICTURESTART, an independent multimedia studio that produces and finances stories rooted in self-discovery for all mediums. Recent releases have include Cooper Raiff’s Cha Cha Real Smooth for Apple TV+ and the upcoming adaptation of Luckiest Girl Alive for Netflix. Prior to his work at PICTURESTART, Krishnan began his career in business strategy with stints at Bain & Company, Microsoft, and Netflix before making the leap to the creative side of Hollywood. A vocal advocate of those from marginalized backgrounds, Krishnan seeks to amplify and elevate underrepresented voices and perspectives through his work.

With robust experience in both creative development and production, and strategy, his wealth of experience is especially suited to take on the newly-created role of Head of TV and Film at Novel. Krishnan says, “I was immediately blown away by Novel’s bold approach to story, incredible access to original journalism, and unyielding ambition. I’m thrilled to utilize both my creative and business backgrounds as I help grow the already burgeoning Novel brand across the podcast, film and TV landscapes.”

Sean Glynn, CEO of Novel, says, “Novel is on a rapid expansion journey. The exploitation of our IP beyond podcasting is a key part of our future as we increasingly look to self-fund, in addition to working with our partners. Neil is going to be integral to this and we couldn’t be happier.”

Matt O’Mara, Managing Director, says, “From the moment we met Neil we were taken aback by both his excitement about Novel and his incredible dual creative/commercial outlook, which is rare. It’s fantastic that Neil has joined the business and will bring with him his vast experience and a huge number of industry connections.”

Today’s announcement is Novel’s latest in its series of top-level podcast industry talent hires: since March, Novel has announced the hires of Julie Shapiro as Executive Creative Director (formerly of PRX and Radiotopia), Austin Mitchell as Creative Director, Production (formerly of New York Times’ The Daily), Mythili Rao as Managing Editor (formerly of the Guardian’s Today In Focus), and Indira Birnie as Head of Marketing and Communications (formerly of Penguin Random House).

Now with over 40 staff and a thriving partnership with United Talent Agency, Novel is primed to meet the demands of its ambitious repertoire of content planned throughout 2022 and beyond. The company is already exploring adaptation possibilities across its varied slate, including for its recent releases The Superheroes Complex, and Deliver Us From Ervil, made in partnership with iHeart Media.