Arabic audiobook startup Kitab Sawti gets acquired by Storytel

Kitab Sawti, the Arabic audiobook and podcasts platform has been acquired by the world’s leading audiobook and ebook streaming services company Storytel, the two companies announced in a statement to MENAbytes today.

“The combined line-up of Storytel Arabia and Kitab Sawti forms a unique offering of audio content production and distribution that will give consumers access to the biggest and richest Arabic audiobook library in the world,” said the joint statement by the two companies.

The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed but the statement noted that the purchase price will be partly in cash and partly through the issuance of shares in Storytel. It also explained that the transaction will not have a substantial impact on the finances of Storytel which currently has a market cap of about $1.5 billion (SEK 13.81 billion).

Kitab Sawti was founded in 2016 by Swedish entrepreneurs Sebastian Bond and Anton Pollak as a project to help Syrian refugees in schools, with the aim to make it easy for them to become a part of the Swedish society. During its early days, the founders then realized the demand for Arabic audiobooks all around the world and built a dedicated platform for it.

The startup that moved its headquarters to Dubai last year today is one of the leading producers and audiobook streaming services for Arabic content, operating a network of studios across the region with over 100 narrators.

Kitab Sawti claims to host over 2,500 Arabic titles on its platform, serving over 1 million users. It had raised and serves over $8.5 million in funding to date including a $6 million Series A last year. Apart from Swedish VCs, Careem’s co-founders Abdulla Elyas and Magnus Olsson are also among investors in Kitab Sawti.

With the acquisition, Storytel is establishing a new geographic business region Storytel MENA that will be led by Kitab Sawti’s co-founder and CEO Sebastian Bond. The business will consist of Storytel Arabia and Kitab Sawti operations.

Commenting on the acquisition, Sebastian, said, “We are really proud of what Kitab Sawti and our amazing team has achieved with our businesses in the Arab region. I am confident that Storytel, with its technical capabilities, entrepreneurial spirit and multi-market experience, will be an excellent owner and develop these businesses further. I am also eager to experience the potential that will be unleashed as we continue to fuel the passion of the consumers and the unique qualities of the Arabic authorships, publishers and cultural life.

Storytel, according to the statement is the number one streaming service for audiobooks and ebooks in Northern Europe with over 1.2 million paying subscribers and operations on 20 markets.

The statement noted that the combined audiobook catalogs of Storytel Arabia and Kitab Sawti will form an offering of over 5,000 audiobooks in Arabic, making it the largest Arabic audiobook library in the world.

Jonas Tellander, founder and CEO of Storytel, commenting on the ocassion, said, “I am really thrilled and excited about the great opportunities that the combination of Storytel and Kitab Sawti will offer Arabic consumers, publishers and authorships. Online media consumption is booming in the Middle East, as is the confidence local consumers are showing in digital products and payment solutions.”

“The positive trend in customer interest for audiobooks that we presently see in the region, clearly indicates the big potential. And this potential is also reflected in the leading combined skills and experiences of Storytel’s and Kitab Sawti’s amazing local Arabic teams,” he added.

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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