July 20, 2024

Archie Wertheim

Technology Integration and Foundations for Effective Leadership

Podcast app Castro now owned by indie developer Bluck Apps

3 min read
Podcast app Castro now owned by indie developer Bluck Apps

Nearly two months after Castro, the third-party podcast app, announced it was seeking new ownership, the company revealed today that it has officially been bought by Bluck Apps, an independent app studio that developed Android podcast app Aurelian.

In November, Castro’s future was questioned when a former employee, Mohit Mamoria, posted on X that the app would soon shut down. Then the website went down, appearing to confirm the report. However, Castro disputed the claim and explained the reason behind the app’s downtime in a December blog post, saying it was due to a complex issue that required “extensive work” to fix.

Dustin Bluck, a former Instagram employee who launched his podcast app Aurelian as a passion project, now runs the show at Castro, and promises users there are no plans to make any significant changes to the app.

“We won’t be making any drastic changes, like overhauling the UI to look more like TikTok. We’re not adding an AI chatbot. We’ll just keep running the podcast service you already love, with a few tweaks to modernize and keep things running smoothly,” Bluck wrote in today’s blog post, adding that the minor tweaks should help new episodes “sync more quickly.”

“Once things are stabilized and the transition is complete, we’ll be turning our attention toward new features, such as syncing across devices,” he explained.

As an indie developer, Bluck wants to make sure Castro still serves dedicated podcast listeners. “This is a niche, and we intend to serve that niche. If you have over 100 podcast subscriptions and listen to them all semi-regularly, you are probably one of our people,” Bluck said.

Bluck assured users that the subscription price is staying the same for the time being; however, users should subscribe to “Castro Plus” now to avoid a future price hike. Castro is free for users but offers an annual subscription for $29.99, including playback features and other advanced settings like skipping repetitive intros.

Meanwhile, Aurelian is being moved under the Castro umbrella and will use Castro’s back end for search and other capabilities. However, Bluck tells TechCrunch that Aurelian isn’t “necessarily merging with Castro,” but would consider them as siblings.

“It might become Castro, but I wouldn’t want to call it Castro until it actually fits into Castro’s Inbox/Queue workflow. I’m not yet sure if we’ll do that,” Bluck tells us.

Bluck declined to share how much he paid for Castro.

Castro’s new owner also apologized for how the company previously failed to communicate well with users in recent months. From now on, all major changes will be announced to the public, and the team will let users know in a timely manner if/when an issue is being fixed.

Bluck definitely has his work cut out for him as he points out the “thousands of messages” from users that he and his very small team have to get through. While Bluck has hired a couple freelancers, he’s the only full-time employee as of now, so it will likely take some time before he can hire more people to help.

Castro has been a popular iOS podcast app for years, so it’s likely a relief to many that it’s not going anywhere. The app was acquired by Tiny back in 2018.

“I didn’t really expect people to be quite so passionate about the app. There’s a lot of work to do to make those fans happy, but the reception has been very encouraging,” Bluck admitted. “We are very committed to the open podcasting ecosystem, and taking over such a well-designed independent app is very cool for us.”

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