How He Built This: Hear Don Katz on the Amazing Story of Audible’s Founding

An illustration of Audible's Founder and Executive Chairman Don Katz by Scott Everett for NPR's "How I Built This" podcast. Don is wearing a blue shirt and blue framed glasses, looking directly forward. The background is orange with colorful shapes like yellow circles and swirls, blue lines, white swiggles, and purple and mauve ovals.
Illustration by Scott Everett

“I kept going to people, who I otherwise respected, who thought I was crazy,” recalled Don Katz, Audible’s Founder and Executive Chairman, on a recent episode of NPR’s How I Built This with Guy Raz. The interview offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the challenges that Katz and the Audible team faced as they pioneered an entertainment category, starting with his struggle to gather support for his vision. “They just didn’t get it. That made me more inspired to go ahead and try to do it.”

Katz recounts Audible’s early struggles to overcome the relatively primitive technology of the 1990s, weather the dot-com bust of the 2000s and tackle an industry-wide dearth of content. “Only 15 percent of the books coming out were in audio,” he explained, which is amazing to consider now as the global demand for audio entertainment continues to boom—in no small part from Audible’s millions of listeners worldwide.

Listen to the episode to hear, in Katz’s own words, about the perseverance, vision and invention that has fueled Audible’s journey to the present, and how it continues to drive us into the future.


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