Monday, September 16, 2013

Upworthy

When I met the founders of Upworthy (Eli Pariser and Peter Koechley), I was immediately attracted to their mission. They are fostering meaningful content in online media. They are promoting content with a positive message that sparks thought and conversation. They are radical enough to assume that doing so can also be the core of a successful business. And in May, 30 million unique people embraced that vision.

Over the past 18 months, the audience they have engaged in pursuit of this mission is astounding. According to Quantcast they are one of the top 100 web properties online, and over on Facebook there are more than 3MM fans of their content. That is an overwhelming response to a counter-trend thesis for a media company. Upworthy challenges the school of thought endorsed by most online media companies’ editors today that negative/snarky content gets the most engagement.

How did Upworthy become so big in such a short period of time? The Upworthy readers syndicate the company’s content via social networks and email because they resonate with the message and want to endorse the content to others. It’s a combination of technology, algorithmic testing, and human curation that drives this syndication loop. And, above all else, the audience loves the content being served.

Eli and Peter’s backgrounds are perfectly suited to the mission they are pursuing. Eli was the Executive Director of MoveOn.org. Under his leadership, MoveOn.org Political Action grew to 5 million members and raised over $120 million from millions of individual small donors. And Peter was the Managing Editor of The Onion and co-created the Onion News Network. It’s an ideal combination of both bottoms-up online organizing and net-native new media experience.

I’m delighted to announce that Spark has led an $8MM investment in Upworthy. I’m incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work with Eli, Peter and the rest of the Upworthy team as they build towards their ambitious vision.

Does this sound interesting to you? Upworthy is hiring.

Notes

  1. msg said: Where can I place a bet buzzfeed buys them in next 18 months?
  2. sparkcapital reblogged this from thegongshow and added:
    Andrew Parker’s blog post about our investment in Upworthy.
  3. thegongshow posted this