16 Podcasts, 13 Writings, and Celebrating 1H 2021

July 1, 2021 by  Chris Erwin

July 4th weekend is soon upon us. It’s one of the great American holidays a long weekend in the heart of summer to celebrate our nationhood and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It brings together family and loves ones over BBQs, outdoor festivities, and good cheer.

And our RockWater team believes it’s also a good time to come together on a global scale, and both celebrate and reflect upon the first half of 2021.

Six months of hard work by our global civilization to fight the COVID pandemic, and re-boot our economies. And we’re far from being in the clear, as many international countries are still deep in the fight. But the light at the end of the tunnel is becoming more clear.

I’d also like to acknowledge the accomplishments of our RockWater team, who inspire, teach, and delight me daily. Below are some 2021 highlights:

  • 10 strategy advisory assignments. They’ve spanned OTT news platform and livestream commerce launches, to the future of kids omnichannel retail and sports betting media.
  • 29 new editorial pieces. 16 from our growing audio portfolio, including our newly-launched RockWater Roundup microcast, and The Come Up podcast interview series. And 13 writings via our Through Line newsletter and industry Watch Lists.
  • A new custom-built website to better feature our industry focus areas, past work, editorial, and to lay the foundation for some new content-led business lines
  • A lean, yet growing and VERY hardworking team
  • Our official entry into 1% for the Planet and thousands of dollars donated

In closing, enjoy our 2021 YTD editorial curation below. And to our fellow American readers, our team wishes you a fantastic holiday weekend with your family and loved ones.



The First 8 Episodes of the RockWater Roundup, our New Microcast

In April we launched our new microcast, where on a weekly-ish basis me and Andrew Cohen break down Media x Commerce news in under 15 minutes. We’ll keep working hard to provide jam-packed insights and data about the most interesting developments in our space, and we welcome any and all feedback.

To that end, we’ve heard that listeners (shout-out to Chris Grow from FireWire!) would like a 2-pager exec sum of the top insights and data we feature in each episode, as we jam in a lot. Essentially, an even more bite-sized version of our hot takes on industry news to pass along to fellow team members.


We provide this in the blog post for the Etsy / Depop episode blog post, link below. As our lean editorial team staffs up, we hope to add these exec sums to more episodes.

Paul / Mayweather and the Growth of Sports Creator Competitions (6.21.21)
Podcast (13:14) | Transcript

  • This month Logan Paul fought Floyd Mayweather in an exhibition event, drawing 1 million PPV buys and generating $50 million in revenue. It’s yet another datapoint in the growth of made-for-social creator competition series, which represents the exciting intersection of social media stars and sport.  We discuss the breakdown of PPV vs ad-supported models, how House of Highlights’ Showdown series drove over 100 million online views, the need for real competitive stakes, Triller’s $500 million capital raise, and re-defining sport as we know it.


Etsy Buys Depop for $1.6 Billion and the Rise of Resale (6.14.21)
Podcast (10:34) | Transcript

  • Etsy just bought Depop, an ecommerce marketplace known for vintage clothes and streetwear that’s highly popular with Gen Z. We discuss the deal logic, how the $40 billion resale market is outpacing overall apparel, the recent IPOs of Poshmark and Thredup, Gen Z buyer values, downward seller fee pressures from incumbents like Facebook Marketplace and eBay, and how resale platforms bolster their competitive position via product UX and distribution partnerships.
  • NOTE: this blog post also features a 2-pager exec sum of the key insights and data we highlighted in the episode


Whatnot Raises $50M and the Future of Livestream Commerce (6.7.21)
Podcast (12:30) | Transcript

  • Whatnot, a livestream commerce marketplace for authenticated resale (like trading cards), just raised a $50 million Series B. We explain the origins of China’s $170+ billion livestream selling market, the rapid growth of the $15 billion sports memorabilia / collectibles market, and whether the future US winners will be the large tech incumbents or upstarts like NTWRK, Newness, and Whatnot, who focus on niche vertical communities.


Bitcoin Pizza and Food Commerce Momentum (6.1.21)
Podcast (10:30) | Transcript

  • Anthony Pompliano, an investor and podcaster, launched Bitcoin Pizza, a new “decentralized” pizza brand. It’s yet another example of a creator or media brand launching a direct-to-consumer food & beverage brand. In this episode we explain why food media overindexes on commerce success, how these capital-lite business initiatives are being powered by ghost kitchens and delivery apps, and what we’ve learned talking about food initiatives with traditional and digital publishers.


AT&T Exits WarnerMedia and Lessons Learned (5.21.21)
Podcast (12:06) | Transcript

  • AT&T just sold WarnerMedia to Discovery for $43 billion, after acquiring it for $85 billion just a few years ago. We discuss why AT&T needs to refocus on its wireless business and stop buying media assets, Jason Kilar’s exit and why traditional Hollywood leadership is coming out on top, and the right strategies for disruptive streamer roll-outs while managing core legacy media models.


The Future of Livestreaming: Music and Sports (5.18.21)
Podcast (14:11) | Transcript

  • There have been a handful of recent livestream deals in music and sports. NBCU tapped Twitch to produce and deliver live content that will live on a new NBC Olympics Twitch channel for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. And Warner Music invested in virtual concert platform Wave, and Deezer invested in live concert platform DREAMSTAGE. We break down the power of “live” via 4 success pillars, and how livestreaming will impact the future of these two verticals.


Sports Betting Media in Overdrive (5.12.21)
Podcast (11:55) | Transcript

  • In the past week Catena Media acquired Lineups.com for $40 million, and Better Collective acquired Action Network for $240 million. The deal frenzy includes 20+ other transactions, and kicked off in 2020 when Penn National Gaming acquired Barstool Sports. We explain why the legalization of gambling in the US is driving a massive customer landgrab opportunity for sportsbooks, and why sports media assets are the key to efficient user acquisition and improved in-app sportsbook experiences.


Rise of Social Audio (4.24.21)
Podcast (11:49) | Transcript

  • In December 2020, Clubhouse had 600,000 users. As of April 2021, it has 10 million. But just as it’s beginning to achieve critical mass, its core “Social Audio” experience is being replicated by a slew of well-capitalized incumbents like Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, and Slack, as well as ambitious upstarts like Stereo and Fireside. We explain why via the duality of “Lean-Back” and “Lean-In”, how Social Audio drives time on platform, and the paralells with livestream video.


We Also Published 8 New Episodes of The Come Up, our Podcast Interview Series

We first launched TCUpod back in August 2020. It was our first RockWater podcast launch, and it’s been an incredible way to learn from, and meet, many of the smartest minds operating at the intersection of Media x Commerce. It’s also been a great reminder of how many fantastic people are part of our industry community so many kind, caring, and amibitious leaders who want to build great products, teams, and do right by the world.

We’re very grateful for our guests that take the time to be on it, and their willingness to share their stories and life learnings with such candor and enthusiasm.

We publish at least every month. And we love the increasing guest recommendations we get from our listeners, so keep ’em coming!

Damian Pelliccione — CEO of Revry on Launching a Queer TV Streamer, 4x Founder Diversity, and Grassroots Power (6.24.21)
Podcast (51:48) | Transcript


Matthias Metternich — CEO of Art of Sport on Being a 5x Founder, Skincare for Athletes, and Pitching Kobe Bryant (6.3.21)
Podcast (51:48) | Transcript


Kevin Jones — Founder of Blue Wire on Getting Fired for a 49ers Tweet, $3.5M from WynnBet, and the Future of Sports Podcasts (5.6.21)
Podcast (1:03:07) | Transcript


Chris Ovitz — President at OK Play on Being a 3x Founder, Humble Leadership, and Reimagining Kids Screen Time (4.7.21)
Podcast (53:45) | Transcript


Aditi Dash — Partner at CircleUp on Surprise FDA Visits, Clubhouse, and Consumer Investing (5.17.21)
Podcast (1:13:11) | Transcript


Aaron Levant — CEO of NTWRK on Launching 30 Event Brands, Why Ignorance Is Rich, and Shopping at the Speed of Culture (2.24.21)
Podcast (1:06:30) | Transcript


Kevin Gould — CEO of Kombo Ventures on $75 Million of Beauty Sales, Liquidating His IRA, and the Hottest Role in Town (2.3.21)
Podcast (1:17:47) | Transcript


Gretta Cohn — CEO of Transmitter Media on $7,000 of Startup Capital, Touring with Bright Eyes, and Making Beautiful Things (1.10.21)
Podcast (1:12:49) | Transcript


For Our Writing Fans, We Published 9 New Through Line Articles

Our newsletter / blog articles are our tentpole editorial pieces. They’re long, but reflect our deepest thinking on industry topics, and incorporate learnings from client advisory work, market research, and executive conversations. And they also inspire much of our other editorial, particularly our RockWater Roundup podcast.

We’re actively recruiting new writing contributors in the mix. If you, or anyone you know, would like to get involved, pls shoot me an email (chris@wearerockwater.com).

How Media Operators Capture the $60 Billion US Sports Betting Market (6.10.21)
Blog Post


The Duality of Social Audio: How will the landscape unfold? (5.13.21)
Blog Post


The Duality of Social Audio: Leaning In While Leaning Back (4.22.21)
Blog Post


How To Buy an NFT (like an “NFTweet”) (4.13.21)
Blog Post


Kids Screen Time Explodes, 20+ Deals, and How To Win the Next Generation of Viewers (and Their Parents) (4.1.21)
Blog Post


2021 Predictions

  • How to Close the $150 Billion Livestream Commerce Gap Between US-China (3.4.21) Blog Post
  • Sportsbook Content Strategy for the $60 Billion Online Gambling Market (2.11.21) Blog Post
  • 4 New Audio Buyers + Food Commerce Gets “Re-Stacked” (1.28.21) Blog Post


From Attention to Passion. A Look Back at 2020 (1.14.21)
Blog Post


And Lastly, for the Data Lovers, We Published 5 Industry Watch Lists

In March we launched a new format called Watch Lists. The goal is to keep our readers informed about the fast-moving deal and launch activity within Media x Commerce. And with this information, help our executive readership make better business decisions based on current market data.

Today we’re introducing our 5th one, the Food & Beverage Commerce Watch List.

And yes, we have some across-the-board updating to do that we’ll get to in July (market activity has been wild as of late), but each list is still chock full of critical market data. And if you have any recommendations for deal activity we should include, just send us a note!


Media x Food Commerce

Sports Betting x Media

NFT Platform

Audio M&A

Livestream Commerce


Ping us here at anytime. We love to hear from our readers.

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