New Media

‘Mic’ Drop: PolicyMic Changes Its Name, Revamps Layout

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Millennials are often accused of being irresponsible and non-committal. We can’t commit to a relationship, a mortgage or a job for more than a year. How appropriate then, that a news site meant for millennials can’t commit to a name.

PolicyMic has changed its name to Mic (Stylized “.Mic”). “Policy.Mic” is now just a section, like Arts.Mic or World.Mic. Distancing themselves from using the word “Policy” in their masthead is meant to chase broader appeal. Read More

Up and Comers

19-Year-Old Tech Pro Wants to Revolutionize News, Will Drop Out of School If Necessary

Mr. Meyer demos Fresco for us at a WeWork coworking space downtown. (Photo by Jordyn Taylor)

John Meyer isn’t sure if he’ll go back to school in the fall.

Currently finishing up his freshman year at NYU’s Polytechnic School of Engineering, the 19-year-old’s course load hasn’t taught him much he didn’t already know. After all, Mr. Meyer’s been developing apps — some of them hugely successful — since the App Store launched in 2008, and has been using his earnings to support himself since his sophomore year of high school.

Now, he’s certain his latest project — a news app called Fresco, which launched today — is going to revolutionize the journalism industry. Read More

New Media

PolicyMic Raises $10 Million To Keep Chasing The Millennial News Audience

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In the competitive and brutal world of new media journalism startups, players come and players go — but one contender just got a boost to keep them in the ring. PolicyMic has raised a $10 million Series A funding round after their audience grew 550 percent in 2013.

PolicyMic wasn’t going to go looking for more funding until next year, PolicyMic CEO and cofounder Christopher Altchek told Betabeat, but as the audience came rushing in, PolicyMic wanted to start hiring additional staff, and needed the extra cash. The investment round was lead by Jim Clark, who cofounded Netscape and has previously invested in Facebook, Twitter, and Apple. Read More

This Happened

The New New Tech Writing: Straight Up Penning Poems About Stuff

How much do we love thee, Drew Houston? Let us count the ways. (Photo: wiki.smu.edu)

There’s the gadget liveblog, the multimedia-heavy feature and the bloggy, snarky take. But as we near the end of 2012, we may have reached the last possible evolutionary stage of tech writing: just fucking penning some poems about stuff.

Dealbook nailed the approach with shining limericks about business news; Googler Andrey Petrov, whose riling ode to Twitter aptly deemed the company “the Benjamin Button of Startups,” set the bar high for poetic programmers everywhere. Now, prolific TechCrunch scribe Josh Constine has taken the baton. Read More

App for That

Ben Huh’s News Startup Circa Aims to Change the Way Users Consume Mobile News

(Photo: Circa blog)

In recent months, LOLcat emperor and  Bravo TV star Ben Huh has systematically leaked handfuls of details about his news startup, Circa, to the press. Back in April, Circa raised $750,000 from a slew of investors (many of whom were named David). In May, Nieman Lab caught up with Mr. Huh at ROFLCON, where he provided buzzword-laden answers and metaphors involving newspapers and teenagers to their questions about the startup. But today, Mr. Huh’s efforts have finally solidified into a cohesive company: Circa is an iPhone app that wants to change the way readers consume news.

Circa isn’t just a news aggregator. It employs teams of editors who curate and synthesize news stories into digestible bites, optimized for reading on mobile devices. The point is to write stories that are designed exclusively for mobile, instead of repackaging stories released on other platforms and trying to fit them into a mobile setting. Read More

Can You Digg It?

The Digg Bang Theory: Can Betaworks Make a Run on Reddit?

Mr. Rose (Photo: flickr.com/joi)

In the winter of 2004, soon after the husks of once-great dot-com startups had dried and shriveled, a 27-year-old college dropout named Kevin Rose deployed a barebones new site, simply named “Digg.”

It was one of the first social networks in existence. Back then, the term “social networking” hadn’t shouldered its way into our lexicon yet. Facebook was a nascent, walled platform for college gossip; Google was still idly toying with its search algorithm; Twitter wouldn’t launch for another two years.

News itself was a hierarchical affair, largely produced and disseminated by trusted broadcasters and editors. Journalism’s democratizing forces hadn’t congealed, yet; bloggers weren’t sitting front row at fashion shows or making a living off of Google Ads. The idea that a community of Internet geeks could manipulate the news cycle would’ve elicited howls of mocking laughter from the Conde kingmakers. Read More