Want news that relevant to you? Want it delivered direct to your smartphone? You’d better check out startup news aggregator Prismatic.
This is one company that seem to have rewritten the rulebook when it comes to online news and could provide some great opportunities for those looking for media jobs.
By attracting the crème de la crème of the NLP/Machine Learning PhDs, Prismatic claims to be able to harness the power of social media and some clever distribution to give consumers a better way of accessing content online. According to Prismatic founder Bradford Cross, his company offers a service that lies somewhere between an RSS feed and Twitter and ends up providing the same kind of service offered by newspapers only with a wider range of sources.
Cross said: “It’s not just about personalization… it’s about how media is consumed now. In the old days, you could just go to the New York Times and get all your news, or whatever. But that’s not the case any more, and it will likely never be the case again. The news is all distributed now, to a thousand different places.”
In order to make sure Prismatic remains at the top of its game, Cross and his team have just finished a Series A round led by Accel’s Jim Breyer, which netted them a cool $15 million. This takes the total raised to $16.5 million, most of which will be ploughed into plenty of R&D to make sure the service is as good as it can be.
Welcome to Prismatic
It wasn’t that long ago that we would buy a newspaper if we wanted to find out what was going on in the world. We would sit at the coffee shop, or enjoy breakfast in bed on a Sunday with a steaming cup of Joe, and leaf through the pages at our leisure.
As well as delivering us the latest news, we would also be presented with features, snippets, editorial and other bits and pieces that talented editors felt their readers would be interested in and enjoy reading. Now the way we consume news has changed, but developers have struggled to replicate that instinct and feel for relevant content that the newspaper editors have.
The tech world has seen countless startups struggle to deliver such content to users when and how they wanted it. From Digg and Stumbleupon, to Flipboard and Wavii – the battle for relevant content delivered fast, has always been an uphill struggle. Until now.
Basically, Prismatic makes sure the content it delivers to its users is relevant and timely by linking to their social media accounts and analysing their followers and news feeds. By machine learning it can then categorize them into topics, individuals and publications and by then using algorithms and user activity signals it can devise a newsfeed that’s entirely bespoke.
The mobile interface is simple and slick and made for the touchscreen. It allows users to share, dislike or declare content as ‘interesting’ and the service continues to learn, the more a user interacts with it, making sure all feeds remain relevant.
Sounds Good. Does it Have a Future?
Originally launched as a web-based service, Prismatic has developed slowly in an effort to remain sustainable and only revealed its app in August. Since then it’s rumoured to have attracted 25K weekly users, with 10K logging on via Facebook.
The investors are certainly convinced the service has a future too. “The ever-increasing amount of online data will require a more sophisticated approach on how we select relevant information,” investor Yuri Milner said. “This new approach could be 50 percent driven by your network and 50 percent driven by algorithms and could make consumption of online data more relevant.”
By developing slowly and growing as a proper, grown-up business, Prismatic certainly seems to be endearing itself to users as they recognize its commitment to building a quality service. Even though it competes with some big hitters such as Pulse, Zite and Flipboard, Cross believes its dedication and high standards will see it succeed.
Although it currently has no means of generating revenue, there are discussions with Amazon around providing affiliate links in stories. It’s also looking into expanding into content types besides news such as events and apps, which could also bring monetization opportunities.