In 2006, one of the most vibrant social networks in the world was the photo-sharing site Flickr. By November, Google had purchased the video-sharing site YouTube for 1.65 billion. But lost in that year’s community-content boom was a little company called Ear-Fi that hoped to do for audio what Flickr and YouTube had already done for photos and video. Founder Manolo Espinosa says, “Our idea was, ‘Hey how about setting up a platform that helps people tell stories as simple as talking, sharing as simple as clicking a button, and listening as easy as picking up a phone or computer?’”
It was an inspired notion. After all, in the broadcasting revolution of the previous century, radio came before TV. Why shouldn’t there be a platform where professionals and non-professionals can share sound clips as easily as photos or video clips? And the timing was perfect, or so it seemed–-the financial crisis hit the following year, and Ear-Fi never made it through 2008.
Now Espinosa has a second chance to revolutionize how the web listens to itself. Last September, he became the “Head of Audio” at SoundCloud, the sound-sharing platform famous for its orange and blue audio player that lets listeners comment directly on a clip’s waveform.