The following is a continuation of The Pitch Origin Story. Here’s Part 1 if you missed it.
I imagine most people go into acquisitions like we did. Full of excitement and high expectations. But after you’ve gone through one, you realize they aren’t all rainbows and butterflies… After all, you can’t have rainbows without rain.
It started with a cold email.
Josh wrote to Matt Lieber, the co-founder of a new podcast company in Brooklyn, NY. Josh told Matt what we were working on - the podcast version of Shark Tank but with more reality and less “TV.” Luckily, Matt was willing to listen when our first episode dropped. And when he did... he loved it!
A few anxious weeks went by until a call was scheduled with Matt and his co-founder Alex Blumberg. Josh had stars in his eyes as he met the creator behind his favorite podcast StartUp. A few minutes into the call, they made an offer to buy The Pitch and offered Josh a position at their new startup, Gimlet Media. Matt believed Gimlet could turn The Pitch into a “juggernaut.”
Joining Gimlet felt exciting! We were thrilled to be there gaining the expertise of two legends-in-the-making. Matt and Alex were really wonderful, but they were busy running a company - not flitting from show to show sprinkling magic podcast dust and marketing dollars everywhere.
One of the reasons transitioning to Gimlet was difficult was being married co-founders. Josh got acquired as a salaried employee while I was contracted as the "event planner" for our multi-day recordings.
It was as I fought for fair payment, after our first event, that I first realized The Pitch was no longer "my baby" to care for.
The finance department and I sent a few emails back and forth before getting on a phone call where I defended my "high price" as an event planner. I argued I was way more than that, and I couldn't calculate the hours Josh and I spent on The Pitch. But... oh, they only hired me as an event planner. They didn't need me for more than that.
Learning to let go of the thing I helped birth... It was like having a child, giving it up for adoption, but still being present in his life. I never knew who I was to it. Was I allowed to give input on the direction of the show, or was I supposed to stay in my lane and just plan events?
Beyond that, Josh struggled with feeling like The Pitch never got the attention that other shows got at Gimlet, because we lived in Florida and worked remotely. Joining Gimlet was supposed to make us feel like we were less alone, but in some ways it enhanced feelings in each of us of being excluded.
In our time at Gimlet, we built and strengthened relationships with some really incredible people. We learned that advertisers would pay top dollar to sponsor our podcast. And we had a lot of fun!
Although the years included some storms, I wouldn't trade the rainbows that came from it. Josh and I grew personally and professionally. We found our groove working together in a new way. And together the team created an amazing podcast!
And then... we entered a new acquisition.
The news burst out that Spotify was looking to acquire Gimlet before it was supposed to. Things felt harried and rushed inside the company. Meetings were held. Assurances were made.
Call me a skeptic, but previous experience told me acquisitions never go the way you think they will. However, acquisitions equal money. So even the biggest skeptic has something to be excited about.
We celebrated the day the deal closed. Popping bubbly on the back patio of our Florida-based home. The Pitch was mentioned alongside other well-known Gimlet shows as part of the acquisition. "Look Ma! We made it onto CNN!"
Gimlet got absorbed into Spotify. There were lots of perks like a company phone, great healthcare, and ostentatious off-sites. We could have gone to Sweden, but Josh was a workaholic. He didn't want to step away from the mic.
And then... a pandemic made it impossible for us to gather in person and record pitches. That meant I certainly wasn't working. Josh and the production team did their best, but ultimately the episodes they were making weren't pitches. And The Pitch went dark.
We all have our stories of the good that came from that period. Time spent with our families, learning how to garden, or brew beer, or raise chickens - wait, you didn't buy chickens?
In a world that never stops… we were forced to stop.
It was a life-changing time for us and our family. We learned how to truly rest, and we grew spiritually in new ways, thanks to John Mark Comer's book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. (It's quite possibly the most opposite book of anything you've read in the startup world which is ALL about hustle and hurry.)
As we considered what the future held, Josh - the idea guy - was at a loss for ideas. Everyone wanted to know: what happened to The Pitch, and what was next?
Whenever my kids come to me and say, "Mom, I'm bored!" I tell them, "Oh good! That's where creativity begins!" From a place of rest or "boredom" our brains have space to imagine and dream.
Once Josh got into that space, the ideas started flowing again.
The only problem was, they were all ideas for The Pitch. And we needed to own The Pitch to make them happen.
So, The Pitch was acquired a third time… this time by me and Josh. In the summer of 2022 we bought The Pitch from Spotify.
As owners of The Pitch again, the vision is bigger. Josh is spitting ideas out, and I'm scrambling to make them happen - or reel him in! I shouldn't be surprised, really.