May 24, 2019
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Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project goes live for all

in Apps/Delhi/genome/India/Media/mobile/Pandora/podcasts/Politics/streaming by

Last month, Pandora announced it would soon be bringing its “Genome” technology to a new space outside of music: it would leverage a similar classification system to make podcast recommendations, too. Initially, the feature was only available to select users on mobile devices, ahead of a broader public launch. Today, Pandora says its Podcast Genome Project has gone live for all users.

Like Pandora’s Music Genome – its music information database capable of classifying songs across 450 different attributes — Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project is a cataloging system designed to evaluate content. But its focus is on audio programs instead of music.

The Podcast Genome Project can currently evaluate content across over 1,500 attributes, including MPAA ratings, production style, content type, host profile, and more, alongside other listener signals, like thumbs, skips, replays and others. It uses a combination of machine learning algorithms, natural language processing and collaborative filtering methods to help determine listener preferences, the company says.

Pandora then combines this data with human curation to make its podcast recommendations.

These recommendations are live now in the Pandora app’s “Browse” section, under the banner “Recommended Podcasts For You.” Podcasts will also be discoverable throughout the app in the Now Playing screen, search bar, in the podcast backstage passes, and in the episode backstage passes.

At launch, the app is aggregating over 100,000 podcast episodes in genres like News, True Crime, Sports, Comedy, Music, Business, Technology, Entertainment, Kids, Health and Science, the company adds.

Podcasters can also now ask to be included in Pandora’s app by filling out a form here.

Longer-term, a better recommendation system for podcasts could help Pandora as it becomes more integrated with its acquirer SiriusXM. The deal will likely bring SiriusXM’s exclusive programming to Pandora’s subscribers, which would greatly increase the number of audio programs available on its service. Putting the right programs in front of the most interested customers could then drive more people to upgrade to a paid subscription, impacting Pandora’s bottom line.


WuXi NextCODE aims for the genomics database “gold standard” with new $240 million

in Bio/bioinformatics/Biotech/Delhi/Fundings & Exits/genetics/genome/genomics/Health/India/Politics/Science/TC/Temasek Holdings/wuxi/wuxi nextcode by

A lot of money is being poured into genomics lately, including the genomic information company WuXi NextCODE (WXNC), which just announced it has closed on $240 million in Series B financing, led by Sequoia.

We tend to hear very little about this company in the tech industry but Chinese tech billionaire Jack Ma is one of its many backers and WXNC is counted among the largest genetic database outfits in the world, offering B2B products for research and B2C products for the Chinese consumer market.

The company was founded in 2013, as a spinoff of deCODE genetics in Iceland. In 2015 WXNC was acquired by WuXi AppTec, the Chinese and US open access R&D platform. WuXi AppTec then merged the company with its Cambridge, Massachusetts-based sequencing laboratory to create WuXi NextCODE. WXNC is now a standalone subsidiary with offices in Cambridge, Shanghai and Reykjavik.

WXNC’s cloud-based database is used by researchers around the world to visualize and analyze whole exomes (these are the expressed or “turned on” genes in a genome; a genome being all the genes in an organism).

On the consumer side, the company is a bit of a 23andMe, Color Genomics and Helix all rolled into one, with several consumer genetic test products available for purchase in China.

WXNC is on track to have more than 2 million genomes in its information database by 2020, more than any other database in the world, according to the company. Now WXNC would like to take that fresh $240 million and put it towards building out the infrastructure needed to make its database the “gold standard” of genome sequence data.

“Only a platform with millions of genomes can provide the network effect and knowledge base that enable everyone to derive greater benefit, continually attracting more users, more data, and delivering ever more powerful health insights to serve people and patients everywhere,” said WuXi NextCODE chairman and WuXi AppTec founder Dr. Ge Li.

The company announced it had raised $75 of the $240 million back in June from Temasek and the Jack Ma-backed Yunfeng Capital. Other participants in the round include  Amgen Ventures, 3W Partners, and “other existing long-term partners.”

WXNC had previously raised $30 million, bringing the total now raised to $270 million.


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