Flipboard has acquired news reader Zite from CNN, and the two have partnered to put more content from CNN personalities on the Flipboard app.
“As a news-loving entrepreneur, I’ve long admired the work of both of these companies: Zite has always amazed me with its ability to give readers great content centered around specific topics—tens of thousands of them—and CNN has long been a pioneering force for 24/7 news coverage around the world,” says Flipboard founder Mike McCue. “We acquired Zite from CNN to address something we’ve heard from a lot of you: although you can already read thousands of sources from over 20 regions on Flipboard, you want easier and better ways to discover content about the things that matter to you. Adding Zite’s expertise in personalization and recommendations to Flipboard’s product experience and powerful curator community will create an unparalleled personal magazine for our millions of readers.”
Zite co-founder and CTO Mike Klaas writes on the Zite blog:
Flipboard has been linked with our history since the moment we decided to build a news product. What they were able to accomplish on the barely-capable hardware of the first-gen iPad amazed us and inspired us to build Zite exclusively for the iPad (a decision that seemed crazier then than it would now). When we launched people instantly wondered if we were a “Flipboard killer”, and I’ve had to answer more questions about being in their shadow in the last three years than I care to count. At times, I found the comparison frustrating: Zite’s focus was on topics, while Flipboard was mostly about publications; Flipboard was a reader for social media but Zite tried hardest to find articles you couldn’t find on your Twitter feed. The two products look superficially similar but couldn’t be more different under the hood.
I should have realized that the comparison kept coming up because both companies share the same vision. As I have gotten to know the folks behind Flipboard, I’ve met a group of people whose commitment to building an amazing news reading experience rivals our own. We’re both trying to help people discover great content that feels like it was hand-picked just for them. We’re both dissatisfied with a world where ads force an article to be the second-class citizen on the screen. We both refuse to accept that monetization must be antagonistic to content.
Our goals are the same, and if our methods are different, that is not a source of weakness but of strength: Flipboard has an impressive curation team, unrivalled publisher network, and incredible scale. Zite has world-class recommendations technology and expertise in topic-based discovery. Both companies have amazing design and mobile engineering talent. I’m absolutely convinced that joining forces with Flipboard is the right next step in achieving the vision we started with back in 2005.
The Zite and Flipboard teams are being integrated, but at least for now, Zite will continue to be available as a separate app. That will change, however. Klaas says the goal is to get the Zite experience in Flipboard right before shutting down the app down. They’ll also build a way to transition Zite data to Flipbard. Just don’t expect anything for at least six months.
Zite CEO Mark Johnson will not be joining Flipboard. He says in an LinkedIn Influencer post:
Personally, my situation is a bit different and I won’t be joining Flipboard. I’m really glad that I ignored the odds and shepherded Zite through our CNN years. I’ve grown as a CEO and I’m very proud of my team. However, after being at four different successful startups, I’ve never started one myself and it’s time to change that. Though I’ve got a number of ideas, I haven’t settled on what I’d like to do next. So, I’ve decided to take some time off to think, hike, consult, travel, advise, meet, write, dream, read, study, and – probably most importantly – relax. For me, the best ideas come when I’m not looking for them.
As mentioned, Flipboard is getting more content from the CNN crew. This includes several magazines: The Lead with Jake Tapper, GPS Daily (from Fareed Zakaria) and Go “Inside Politics” (from John King).
CNN Money says the deal is valued at $60 million.
CNN acquired Zite nearly three years ago.
Image via Flipboard