Interactive True-Crime Podcast Company Solve Raises $20 Million

By Amit Chowdhry ● December 16, 2019
  • Interactive true-crime and mystery studio company Solve announced it raised $20 million in funding

Solve — an interactive true-crime and mystery studio that spun out of Elisabeth Murdoch’s Vertical Networks — announced it has raised $20 million in funding from Elisabeth Murdoch, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Upfront Ventures and Advancit Capital (Shari Redstone). With this round of funding, Solve is planning to expand into podcasting with plans to develop content in other media formats in 2020. This round of funding arrived in two rounds, the first part in October 2018 and the second part in June 2019.

Solve started out as an original Snapchat Show last year as part of an interactive murder mystery show. The audience plays the role of the detective in its shows.

The program viewers interview suspects and investigate the evidence in order to try to solve cases that were inspired by true crimes. Over 150 episodes of Solve were produced for Snapchat so far and new installments had premiered weekly.

Through Snapchat, the show hit over 30 million viewers to date. And according to Variety, Solve founder and CEO Tom Wright said that only about one-third of the audience have successfully solved the cases.

The company said that there is a major opportunity to create narrative content that the audience interacts with. “We’ve really dug into what we see as the intersection of entertainment and gaming,” explained Wright via Variety.

Today Solve is debuting a new podcast series on the iHeartRadio and Apple Podcasts apps. And Season 1 of the Solve podcast includes 10 half-hour episodes, each covering its own true-crime case for the viewers to solve. The viewers are asked to review leaked audio files, voicemails, and courtroom testimonies to determine the killer.

In 2020, Solve is planning to launch projects in every other media form such as video games. Wright used to be the CEO of Vertical Networks and he led the company for around 18 months in order to create original programming for Snap. Then he exited from that position in September 2018 and remained a managing partner of Freelands Ventures. Earlier this year, Whistle bought Vertical Networks.

“We believe that Solve can fundamentally change how we interact with narrative video storytelling. When we heard Tom’s vision for short-form video that you not only watch but also must ‘solve,’ we knew that it had enormous potential,” added Upfront Ventures managing partner Mark Suster.

The program was produced in partnership with SALT audio. SALT audio is also known for the “Blackout” and “Carrier” programs.

Currently, Solve has 40 employees and the studio has a production team based out of its headquarters in Venice Beach, California along with an engineering team in London.

“We’ve seen incredibly popular crime mystery shows across media, including podcasts like Serial and Dirty John, TV shows like Making a Murderer and Law & Order, and movies like The Usual Suspects and Gone Girl,” commented Jeremy Liew, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. “Games have attained a first-class status as media but we’ve yet to see a crime mystery format game achieve the same success, and Solve is going to right that wrong.”