Nuzzel, the app that creates a personal news feed based on the news stories your friends are sharing in social media, has taken another round of investment, this time from an all-star list of investors including:
- Akash Garg (the director of engineering at Uber, and formerly the director of engineering at Twitter).
- Matt Cutts (head of the anti-webspam team at Google).
- Nikesh Arora (vice chairman of SoftBank and formerly the chief business officer at Google).
- Marc Benioff (CEO and founder of Salesforce).
The company also announced it was releasing a new version of the product, “Nuzzel 2.0,” that lets people use it without logging in to Twitter. Users can also create custom email lists and alerts, and the app will have new functions to make discovering new sources of news easier (full press release below).
The goal of the company is to solve the problem of people “missing” news stories that are directly relevant to them. For instance, this Wall Street Journal article about bugs in libraries is probably of interest to almost every librarian on the planet. But unless all those librarians are staring at their Twitter stream, or the WSJ site, on the day (or even hour) that the story is published, they are going to miss it. Someone may alert them to it later via email of Facebook, but it’s likely the majority of librarians will not have read that article. Nuzzel fixes that either by letting librarians create email lists and alerts for library news, or by re-surfacing library stories that are being tweeted by other librarians they know from their social networks.
The funding came to $US1.7 million (£1.11 million) and the company has now taken about $US5 million (£3.27 million) in total. The latest round came just a few weeks after Nuzzel took a small investment from a group of media-centric investors including Matter, the old media-funded startup accelerator. The putative valuation was not disclosed.
The new investment is noteworthy because it includes Garg, the former Twitter engineer now at Uber. One of the reasons people like Nuzzel is that it rationalises your Twitter feed by showing you only news that your friends are tweeting or that friends of friends are tweeting. All the other junk — non-news tweets and “witty” subtweets — disappear. The app is heavily used by people in the news business.
The idea that Twitter’s content is too chaotic to be useful — it comes into your feed in chronological order, rather than by relevance — has gained traction over the last few months as new Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey works on improving the product. Twitter investor Chris Sacca, for instance, once said that Twitter should just outright acquire Nuzzel, because “Nuzzel makes Twitter better.”
Business Insider asked Garg why he wanted to put his money into Nuzzel. “I started using Nuzzel to help me keep up with all of the great content that was in my Twitter feed. For news, I would usually use a combination of Google News and Techmeme, however given that I’ve spent many years tailoring my Twitter follow graph, Nuzzel ended up being a much better source of relevant, personalised news for me.”
“I believe Nuzzel does a fantastic job of highlighting the amazing content that lives on Twitter — it’s such a hard problem to surface relevant and timely information and Nuzzel has a large lead on any other similar product in the market. I also believe in Jonathan as a strong entrepreneur and feel he can innovate at a rapid pace with a small and nimble team.”
“I see Nuzzel becoming the de-facto destination for personalised news and interests based on your existing social graphs on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.”
Matt Cutts, the Google executive, told us he has been fan of Nuzzel from the moment he first heard of it. “I requested an invite pretty early on, and then tweeted about how great Nuzzel was. So I was excited about Nuzzel as soon as I heard about it. To tell the truth, I’ve been interested in different approaches to news back to the early days of Google News and Techmeme. “
“The beauty of Nuzzel is you can immediately see its utility. If you follow a lot of people on Twitter, Nuzzel helps you cut through the noise. And if you’re looking for interesting content that you haven’t seen before, the ‘news from friends of friends’ tab is fantastic and a good way to step outside your normal circle of news,” he said.
It’s also interesting that executives from both Google and Twitter — which both have huge presences in the surfacing and distribution of online news — seem to feel that getting news to the right audiences is still a problem that isn’t solved. “Finding important news items or interesting links is big opportunity, and I love that Nuzzel is tackling that space,” Cutts told us. “Short-term, I really like a new custom newsletters feature that Nuzzel just introduced. Not everybody wants to be a Twitter power user, but tons of people want to discover neat new things, or to hear about things from the perspective of their favourite celebrity or VIP.”
One unanswered question remains, of course. How many monthly users does Nuzzel have? CEO Jonathan Abrams declined to answer Business Insider’s question on that. His team is focusing on getting the product right rather than building a huge user-base. For that reason, we believe the user-base is still small.
Here is the press release:
This Thursday Nov 19, we are launching Nuzzel 2.0 on web, iOS, and Android. This is the most major Nuzzel release since we launched our iPhone app a year and a half ago. Nuzzel 2.0 aka “Nuzzel For Everyone” is a completely new version of our apps and website that does not require a Twitter account to enjoy the benefits of social curation.
Here’s what’s changed in Nuzzel 2.0:
• Twitter login is not required (although optional login with Twitter still provides automatically personalised news for anyone with a Twitter account)
• There is a Discover experience on both apps and web that showcases recommended feeds created by both Nuzzel and Nuzzel users
• Search — you can now search for both feeds and stories
• Favourite feeds — you can add any feed to your favourites and easily swipe between them
• Subscriptions and news alerts — Email subscriptions and mobile push alerts are now available for ALL feeds, and to anyone, even without a Twitter login
Here are some screenshots of Nuzzel 2.0 on web and iOS: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/3414849/Nuzzel_2.0.zip
We are also pleased to announce the closing of a new round of funding. Several of Nuzzel’s existing investors participated in this new round of funding, and new investors include:
• Akash Garg — Director of Engineering at Uber, previously Director of Engineer at Twitter
• Anil Dharni — Former COO of GREE
• Ben Smith — CEO of Wanderful Media
• Darren Herman — VP of Content Services at Mozilla
• Dathan Pattishall — CTO of Shots
• Egon Durban — Managing Partner of Silver Lake
• Marc Benioff — Founder & CEO of Salesforce.com
• Mark Goldstein — Founder of Bass Arse Advisors
• Matt Cutts — Head of webspam team at Google
• Nikesh Arora — Vice Chairman of SoftBank
• Ram Gudavalli — Former CTO of Funzio
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