App for That
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.
On the heels of its divorce from NBC News, Microsoft has apparently concluded it wants to stay in the news business.
A newly news-centric MSN.com will roll out with the official launch of Windows 8 on October 26. The software giant’s Bob Visse says things are amicable with the ex partner in reportage, but Microsoft really needed to do Microsoft:
Can You Digg It?
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.
Can You Digg It?
Looks like the ambitious and hardworking folks behind Rethink Digg have their work cut out for them. On Friday, the team–which is tasked with revamping the ailing social news site in the next eight days–released a survey to gather user feedback on the current and future status of Digg. The results? “92% of survey respondents said that they would not recommend the current Digg to a friend.” Ouch.
News YouTube Can Use
Coming soon to a Newsroom episode near you: The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism reports today that people are increasingly turning to YouTube for news. Walter Cronkite it ain’t, but what are you gonna do?
The report illustrates its findings with the example of the 2011 Japanese tsunami. In the seven days after the Read More
Cowork With Me?
Others have tried and failed to make a coworking space grow in Williamsburg. (The Makery is dead! Long live, Bnter’s new office!) But “real estate professionals” and born-and-raised Brooklynites Morris Levy and Richard Beyda may have the home-court advantage. The duo opened The Yard, a 14,000 square foot coworking space, in November and are already at 65 percent capacity.
A number of tech companies, including Hype Machine, Wanderfly, Mobile Roadie and Uber are already working out of the space, as well as a few startups still in splash page mode, like Gander TV and Spotflux. Somewhere between 60 to 70 percent of The Yard‘s residents are techies, although that wasn’t exactly the owners’ intention. “We knew there was a need in Williamsburg/Greenpoint for something like this, but we didn’t realize the tech scene was happening here and that that was the direction it was going to go,” Mr. Levy told Betabeat by phone.
Now that the startup syngery is under way, however, The Yard has been “planning strategic alliances” with angel investors whose portfolio companies might be interested in working there. For example, Mr. Levy said he’s currently in talks with Brooklyn Bridge Ventures founder and First Round Capital alum Charlie O’Donnell, who launched a Kings County-centric seed fund last month.
Portal to Nowhere
Earlier this week Yahoo announced a major integration with ABC. The struggling internet portal finds its stock in the gutter, its internal management in shambles and bankers circling like vultures to break it into pieces they can sell off to the highest bidder. The one thing Yahoo still has in spades is a massive audience.
What’s really interesting, however, is that ABC is not just interested in connecting with the vast number of eyeballs Yahoo can send from its 25 million daily visitors. It’s also intrigued by the kind of social traffic that the big news networks are keen on tapping into.
Funds and Fundability
Idealistic New York entrepreneurs take notice: Collaborative Fund, the socially-minded seed stage fund started late last year by Craig Shapiro, former president at GOOD Worldwide, is ramping up its New York presence. Michael Karnjanaprakorn, co-founder of Collaborative Fund-funded Skillshare, just announced he’s officially advising and scouting for the fund in a role similar to what Chris Poole does for Lerer Ventures and Zach Klein does for Founder Collective.
The Start-Up Rundown
Your week in New York start-ups starts here.
LOL. The New York Tech Comedy Ball, which promises a 50-50 girl-to-guy ratio and featured tiered pricing to that end, is TONIGHT. Open bar, comedy, “surprise celebrity guests,” sponsor giveaways and a VIP afterparty are in store. Step and repeat! Red carpet experience! 8 p.m., Greenhouse. Hint: Password can be found via Google.
Without so much as a blog post, local start-up Quirky nearly doubled its venture backing, closing on a new $5 million round.
Quriky is part of a cadre of New York start-ups taking advantage of advances in 3D printing and the power of social networks to fuel crowdsourced funding.