Australian online radio publisher and distributor, Stripe,
late last week admitted it had slimmed down somewhat as it had
finished building its technology platform and populating its online
The company, which launched in July 2008 and aims to publish
radio stations online and via 3G mobile handsets, has made a number
of staff redundant over the past few months, sources have
"As per Stripe's initial plans, now that the platform and
initial stations have been built, Stripe does not require the same
level of IT and programming resources — efforts have shifted from
platform build to sales and marketing," said the company's
recently promoted general manager, Jarrod Graetz, formerly the
company's head of programming.
The company's managing director at launch, Iain Bartram, is
still involved with the company at a board level, but his role now
appears to be divided between Graetz and Glenn Wheatley, an
original investor in the company and now leader of business
development for the start-up.
Documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments
Commission (ASIC) revealed Stripe had attracted some $4.6 million in
funding when it launched, and has moved offices a couple of times,
with the most recent being in January 2009; from Ultimo to downtown Sydney.
Stripe will revolutionise radio as FM did in the '80s. You can quote me on that.
Stripe's Glenn Wheatley
Among other interesting facts about the company, investors
include David Coe, infamous chief of Allco Finance
Group, radio giant Alan Jones and eBay Australia chief Simon Smith,
who quit his role late in 2008. Stripe's first listed headquarters
with ASIC were Allco's offices in Macquarie Place, Sydney.
When Stripe started broadcasting last year, Wheatley said it was
"exciting" to finally give Australian radio listeners a choice
and service they had never heard before.
"With Stripe, we're providing a platform for Australian artists,
a place for different music to be heard, exclusive programs, live
concerts and stations totally dedicated to feature artists," he
said. "Stripe will revolutionise radio as FM did in the '80s. You
can quote me on that."
Since that time, the start-up has announced a deal with Optus
which sees the carrier broadcast 25 of Stripe's radio stations
over its Zoo mobile platform, with users being able to use the
services for a $7.95 flat monthly charge.
Radio stations include mainstream offerings such as Australia's
top 50, as well as niches like hip hop, country, soft jazz and
"Stripe is moving into a growth phase by increasing the
customer base through our distribution partners and looking at
producing specialised stations for specific events and customers,"
said Graetz last week. "Stripe has other distribution partner
relationships signed up which will be announced within the coming
Commentary The problem with the company's business model is simple: users
aren't used to paying for radio content (which has been
free for many years) and this won't change with the medium's move
to the internet. Devices like Apple's iPhone make it ridiculously
easy to obtain free multimedia content online already and this
functionality will only increase.
Proprietary content distribution platforms like Optus' Zoo will
increasingly become redundant and fade into dust as carriers
realise users don't want a walled garden on their mobile devices
— they want the entire internet.
I anticipate most of Stripe's funding will have gone on
licensing agreements so that they can legally broadcast popular
music on the internet and to 3G devices. However in many cases,
users are already accessing this sort of content online, either
legally or illegally.
With this in mind, the company's move to find extra
partnerships to leverage its existing, likely fairly fixed cost
contracts, while reducing staff costs through layoffs makes
complete sense. Although, I don't think this is a business that will
hold on in the long term.