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(Evening Standard) Secrets of my success: Andrew Fisher, executive chairman of Shazam

News   •   Nov 24, 2016 13:00 EST

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Andrew Fisher regrets selling his other business too soon


Andrew Fisher, executive chairman of music recognition app Shazam, discusses his role, educating advertisers, and his regrets about selling out too soon.

What do you do?

I’ve been executive chairman of Shazam the last three years. Before that, I was chief executive for eight years.

I still work full-time at the company, but look after the corporate side — shareholders, fundraising, strategic partnerships.

It’s important to have a chief executive who is empowered to run the business, and you don’t have someone who was in that role previously who’s interfering. So I try to take a step back from that.

What do you like about it?

I love putting a smile on people’s faces. It’s the best company I’ve ever been involved in — people see what we do as a magical experience.

Wherever I go and meet users of the service, they tend to think Shazam is really fun.

Despite us having had a billion downloads, I still meet many people around the world that have never heard of Shazam, and that’s very grounding.

I’ve worked on building technology businesses where my friends and family tell me that what I’m working on will never succeed and nobody will ever use it. Today, if somebody doesn’t tell me this, I’m actually worried it’s not going to succeed.

What are the challenges?

We’ve become a victim of our own success. Many people would love to encourage our employees to go and work for their organisations, so we make sure people are stakeholders in the business, and that they can actively influence the success of the company.

Also, we think of ourselves as creating a new paradigm for the advertising industry — we recognised people were Shazaming television adverts because they liked the music.

It takes time to educate advertisers that Shazam is more than just discovering music. Now that we’ve run several thousand TV ads, it’s been incredibly successful.

How do you manage having several non-exec roles?

I learn a lot from being a non-executive director [at M&S and Moneysupermarket] and I’d encourage people to consider at least one other non-executive position at another company because it gives you a different perspective on what you’re doing. I genuinely am very passionate about UK companies.

Biggest break?

I don’t see myself as a natural entrepreneur. I was a graduate, and went through the early part of my career saying the right things to the right people (or at least I tried to), when somebody I worked for wanted me to start up a business that they were going to invest in and support.

I very much needed the carrot and the stick. The carrot was some participation in the success of the business and the stick was they told me I had to do it and had no choice.

I don’t think I’d have made that transition if I hadn’t been working for that person. I rolled up my sleeves and started the company on my own, which was quite frightening at the time because I didn’t see myself as a risk-taker.

But I found it incredibly rewarding making my own decisions, building a team and going through the growing pains of a young business. That’s how I developed my career, and started another company after that before joining Shazam.

Biggest setback?

With hindsight when you think about selling a company too early and then look back on it and think “we could have done more and stayed in for longer”. It wasn’t a bad outcome [for tech business TDLI.com]. I took in £800,000 and the business was sold for just under $400 million [£321 million].

I feel that’s influenced how we’ve built Shazam. We could have sold the company for $200 million but we achieved a valuation of $1 billion a year and a half ago.

Work-life balance?

Work partly is my hobby but I’ve got a family — I have two teenage boys — and love to spend time with them. I love running — I’m such a slow runner that it takes a disproportionate amount of time compared to other people.

But I love to play golf and get out and about so I do find time, and I do protect family time as well.

Any tips for budding entrepreneurs?

Follow your aspirations and don’t talk yourself out of it — talk yourself into it.

Andrew Fisher, executive chairman of music recognition app Shazam, discusses his role, educating advertisers, and his regrets about selling out too soon.

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Shazam Partners with Vadio to Introduce Music Video Channels

Press Releases   •   Oct 13, 2016 09:00 EDT

One of the world's most popular apps partners with fast-growing music video platform.

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Shazam Announces iMessage App

Press Releases   •   Oct 10, 2016 03:00 EDT

The magic of music discovery is now available inside Apple’s popular texting feature

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Introducing Shazam Lite

Press Releases   •   Oct 06, 2016 07:27 EDT

Instant music discovery for a wide range of mobile devices with variable network conditions

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(Campaign) Shazam hits 1bn downloads and returns to profitability as ads pay off

News   •   Sep 30, 2016 12:40 EDT

by Shona Ghosh

Shazam has hit one billion app downloads and returned to profitability, after expanding beyond basic music recognition into brand advertising.

Shazam: the company's campaign with Coke allowed users to scan lyrics, and record a video of themselves singingShazam: the company's campaign with Coke allowed users to scan lyrics, and record a video of themselves singing

The bulk of Shazam's advertising business lies in TV, with the firm boasting clients such as P&G,. Unilever, Jeep and KitKat.

Brands that create 'Shazamable' ads can offer the app's users additional content on mobile, or the chance to claim free products.

That has involved years of educating brands and consumers as to the benefits of Shazamable advertising. There's the practical challenge of persuading Shazam's 120m monthly users to open up the app during a TV ad, and engage with brand content. Then there's getting brands and agencies to create sufficiently compelling digital content.

A greater awareness of the app and how to run Shazamable campaigns has returned the company to profitability, chairman Andrew Fisher told Campaign.

"90% of people that Shazam a TV ad do spend time with the brand on their pages, and engage with the offer being made," he said. "That's led to higher engagement and participation rates with brands, and that has driven us to profitability."

Now the company is expanding beyond audio recognition into visual recognition and beacons.

Earlier this year, the company ran a campaign using visual recognition for Coca-Cola. Coke printed famous lyrics on its bottles, with consumers encouraged to Shazam the packaging, get the full lyrics, then record themselves singing the full song.

"People are willing to use the camera and engage with packaging and print media," said Fisher. "We have seen lots of success."

Asked whether brands ever do more than experimental campaigns, Fisher said the company didn't disclose its renewal rates, but said they were "very high" in the UK.

Fending off rumours of a flotation, Fisher said there were benefits in remaining a private company - for now.

"We certainly aren't planning an IPO in 2016, the market conditions aren't right for us," he said.

"We are venture backed, and at some point in time we will look to create liquidity for our shareholders," he added.

With agencies and publishers alike looking to expand into digital advertising, Fisher added that the company had turned down acquisition offers.

"We have had interest in Shazam, but we have been really focused on building out the category," he said, noting that the TV ad market is worth considerably more than the music market. "In terms of returning value to our shareholders and growing our enterprise value, there's a significant opportunity to do that by staying private."

Shazam has hit one billion app downloads and returned to profitability, after expanding beyond basic music recognition into brand advertising.

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(The Telegraph) Shazam reaches profitability as it hits one billion downloads

News   •   Sep 29, 2016 12:34 EDT

Shazam Billion-dollar company Shazam is finally turning a profit CREDIT: SHAZAM

by Cara McGoogan

Music discovery app Shazam has finally reached profitability after 15 years and a billion-dollar valuation.

One of the UK's few tech "unicorns" - startups worth $1bn (£770m), Shazam announced the financial milestone as it heralded a billion downloads to date, 500 million of which happened in the last two years.

Expanding its remit beyond recorded music into image-recognition, marketing campaigns and augmented reality has helped Shazam achieve "double-digit revenue growth". On Thursday, it said was profitable when it came to EBITDA, a measure of profitability that excludes taxes and depreciation in assets.

"We have actually been profitable in the past," said Andrew Fisher, executive chairman of Shazam. But the company went "back into loss-making" to expand its remit and "develop a new paradigm for the advertising industry". 

Capitalising on the vast number of users that were "Shazam-ing" - looking up on the app - songs in adverts, the company partnered with advertisers such as Nike and Coca Cola to offer more search results than just song titles.

"We still provide the name of the song in the advert, but then we go on to provide a richer experience," said Mr Fisher. "We've been able to provide immediate responses at the point of inspiration."

For example, if a user searches for a song used in a car insurance advert they will see the name of the track, as well as being prompted by Shazam to call said insurer and get a quote.

The company has also introduced image-recognition technology that means users can scan visual cues, such as a film poster on the side of a bus, and be taken straight to a ticket booking system.

"As we've matured these areas of the business it has helped us get back to profitability," said Mr Fisher.

Shazam's Andrew FisherShazam's Andrew Fisher

If the company's download numbers are anything to go by, it doesn't appear to have isolated its 20m daily users by moving away from its music look-up roots.

"It took us almost 10 years to reach 500m downloads," said Mr Fisher. "It took just two years to reach 1bn, so in the last 24 months we've doubled our downloads."

Shazam is now setting its sights on emerging markets, including Asia, Africa and the Middle East and will next week launch a smaller version of its mobile app that works with slower connection speeds. 

Separately, music streaming service Spotify was reported to be in takeover talks with its $700m rival Soundcloud.

Soundcloud, which is known as a free audio upload service, launched a subscription based streaming service to rival the likes of Spotify and Apple Music earlier this year.

Spotify boasts 40m paying subscribers and revenues of €1.95bn (£1.5bn), but is yet to make a profit. 

​Music discovery app Shazam has finally reached profitability after 15 years and a billion-dollar valuation.

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(Forbes) Shazam Has Now Been Downloaded One Billion Times

News   •   Sep 29, 2016 12:26 EDT

by Hugh McIntyre

The Shazam Entertainment Ltd. logo sits on a wall as an employee uses a smartphone in this arranged photo at the company’s headquarters in London, U.K., on Friday, July 26, 2013. Billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil SAB has invested $40 million in the London-based company behind the software with more than 70 million active users every month. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Music identifying app Shazam has come a long way since it was first introduced almost a decade ago, and today the company has announced a number of enormous figures and milestones it has reached, all of which go to underline just how powerful and popular the program really is.

The company revealed today that it has now been downloaded over one billion times by users around the world, easily making it one of the most downloaded apps of all time. Shazam has been quickly acquiring users over the years thanks mostly to the fact that it stood out from the crowded app space thanks to its specific use. It filled a void that needed filling at a time when nothing else even came close, and its user base has grown organically since then.

Shazam also admitted that after years of trying and losing money, the company is now, finally, profitable. While its lack of profitability hadn’t been hurting the company too much, it’s not possible to lose money forever. Last year, the tech firm was valued at $1 billion, despite the fact that it hadn’t ever turned a profit.

For a long time, the app could only be used to identify songs that people didn’t know, but as the years progressed, the company’s technology expanded, and new mediums and items became “Shazamable.” Earlier this year, the company launched Shazam For Brands, which has helped it become fun and useful to users in new ways, while also adding a new revenue stream. Brands can now partner with Shazam to create interesting and creative campaigns around almost anything, using an app that much of the world already has.

Since launch, there have been 30 billion “Shazams,” which essentially means that it has been used 30 billion times to identify one song or another, which is truly an incredible figure. The company claims that Shazam is now used 20 million times every single day around the world. While other apps have popped up that have similar functionality, Shazam was there first, and it has benefitted greatly from the amount of time it has been available to the public. The company Shazam has actually been around a lot longer than the app itself—the mobile application wasn’t introduced until about eight years into the company’s existence—but it is what helped spread the brand around the globe like wildfire.

These figures seem to suggest a turning point for the app, which has seemingly always been well-known and beloved by many. Things were going well for Shazam, despite the fact that it wasn’t making a profit, but now that there is money in the bank and even more set to come in, it could be a bright future for one of the most-downloaded music applications of all time.

Music identifying app Shazam has come a long way since it was first introduced almost a decade ago, and today the company has announced a number of enormous figures and milestones it has reached, all of which go to underline just how powerful and popular the program really is.

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(Bloomberg) Why Shazam's Fisher Sees Brexit as a Good Thing

News   •   Sep 29, 2016 12:18 EDT

Shazam Entertainment Chairman Andrew Fisher discusses with "On the Move" host Guy Johnson the company's fortunes having been downloaded a billion times and how it has benefitted from Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

(Bloomberg video here)

Shazam Entertainment Chairman Andrew Fisher discusses with "On the Move" host Guy Johnson the company's fortunes having been downloaded a billion times and how it has benefitted from Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

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(The Wall Street Journal) Music-App Maker Shazam Finally Turns a Profit—But Not From Music

News   •   Sep 29, 2016 12:06 EDT

Most of its revenue comes from advertisers

Shazam Entertainment’s headquarters in London in 2013. The company had its first operating profit this quarter after 15 years in business.

Shazam Entertainment’s headquarters in London in 2013. The company had its first operating profit this quarter after 15 years in business. PHOTO: SIMON DAWSON/BLOOMBERG NEWS

By HANNAH KARP

After 15 years, music-discovery company Shazam Entertainment Ltd. finally is turning an operating profit—but not thanks to music.

Shazam, which counts hundreds of millions of active users and an app that is been downloaded 1 billion times, is earning most of its revenue from advertisers, who pay to use Shazam’s image-recognition and sound-recognition technology in their marketing campaigns.

That is a big shift for the maker of the app that most users use to identify songs they hear on the radio—a process that takes an average of three to four seconds.

Until recently, Shazam had made most of its revenue by driving users to Apple Inc.’s iTunes Store to buy the songs they identified with the app, taking a commission on these sales. Shazam has been driving about 10% of the music industry’s digital-download sales, said its chief executive, Rich Riley.

But as streaming music from services, such as Apple Music and Spotify AB, becomes increasingly popular, song and album download sales have been shrinking—a trend that Mr. Riley said has spurred his team’s push to an ad-based model.

While Shazam still drives the same share of download sales and sends 1 million clicks a day to Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming services, which compensate it for the business, that traffic doesn’t necessarily result in the users signing up for a $10-a-month music subscription, Mr. Riley said.

The revenue from advertisers has grown faster than from streaming partners recently, making Shazam profitable before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. The closely held company declined to disclose other financial information.

Many advertisers have used Shazam for campaigns that have little to do with music. NikeInc., for example, made the icon of a jumping basketball player on its recent line of Nike Jordan shoes “shazamable,” so Shazam users scanning the image through the app would be able to view other Nike offerings. Air New Zealand Ltd. created a dress for a model made of boarding passes that travelers could “shazam” for a chance to win a free trip.

To keep growing, Shazam is planning to launch soon in emerging markets and to embed its app into platforms such as social media sites, to make it easier for people to use while they do other things online, Mr. Riley said. It also is working to make its recognition technology faster and more accurate.

“People usually use Shazam in noisy environments—we’re constantly working on that problem,” Mr. Riley said.

Shazam was valued at $1 billion in a private financing round early last year. Its backers include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Institutional Venture Partners, DN Capital and Acacia Capital Partners.

Write to Hannah Karp at hannah.karp@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications:
Shazam Entertainment was founded 15 years ago. An earlier version of this article incorrectly indicated the company is 17 years old. (Sept. 29, 2016)

Most of its revenue comes from advertisers

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Shazam Tops 1 Billion Downloads and Achieves EBITDA Profitability

Press Releases   •   Sep 29, 2016 05:10 EDT

Shazam, one of the world’s most popular apps, today announced significant financial and user milestones.

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About Shazam

About Shazam

Shazam is one of the most popular apps of all time, used by hundreds of millions of people globally to connect to the world around them. Building on its pioneering leadership in music identification, Shazam now helps people discover, interact with, and share video, audio, or printed content on TV, radio, movie screens, magazines, newspapers, packaged goods, and retail stores -- and now Shazam lets music fans follow their favorite artists to see their Shazams and share in the thrill of discovery. The app has exceeded 20 billion total Shazams since its launch, and users Shazam over 20 million times each day. For more information on how Shazam has created new technology tools for brands to utilize data visit www.shazam.com

Press contact: PR@Shazam.com