Publishing startup Piano gets an $88m boost

Piano gives tools for big media brands like TechCrunch, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist to build subscription products.

May 21, 2021

Get these guys behind a paywall! (Source: Getty Images / William Lovelace)

Another tech company tries to save flailing publishers, what’s new?

On Tuesday, TechCrunch reported that Piano — a subscription and analytics tool used by dozens of top media houses — raised $88m in a new round of financing.

This latest round brings Piano’s total raised to a whopping $241m. Notably, the internet’s favorite uncle — LinkedIn — joined as an investor in the latest round.

Publishing is so hot right now…

… and it’s undergoing yet another identity crisis, with journalists jumping ship to start Substack newsletters. Paywalls — once hated — are now in vogue.

Piano’s pitch to publishers: Don’t beat ’em, join ’em.

The startup offers publishers a variety of tools and services to track reader engagement on-site, sell subscriptions and memberships, and soon manage newsletters.

It touts ~1k customers, including small media operations like The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and The Economist. Heck, even The Hustle’s own Trends once used it, but let’s not talk about that… we’re keeping this story friendly.

Wait… WTF is LinkedIn doing in there?

Per TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden, LinkedIn may use Piano to bring its network of ~740m users outside of LinkedIn.

Think of sign-on features at your favorite publishers using your LinkedIn account. Based on the professional network’s track record of rolling out new features, we’re not holding our breath.

Either way, Piano is padding a war chest — and with its lineup of big name customers, we bet you’ll probably be hearing more from them.

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