In 2008, Rafat Ali sold his tech media company, PaidContent, to the Guardian for about $12.5 million.
Now he’s behind the wheel of a new startup, Skift. This time he has a cofounder, Frommer.com’s former Head of Content, Jason Clampet, and the two are disrupting an even bigger industry: travel.
Skift is a travel intelligence media company which will deliver news, data and services to its readers. Ali and Clampet have raised a $500,000 round from many investors Ali used to write about: Chris Ahearn, Luke Beatty, Gordon Crovitz, Craig Forman, Jim Friedlich, Tom Glocer, Vishal Gondal, Jason Hirschhorn, Pater Horan, Alan Meckler, Mohamed Nanabhay, Sanjay Parthasarathy, Amol Sarva and Chris Schroeder. Three more are undisclosed.
“Currently there are old-school travel magazines and data companies that are fumbling and bumbling into the web,” Ali says of Skift’s opportunity. “Travel is one of the world’s largest industries; it’s very complex and global.”
Skift is launching in two phases. The first is news information; data and services will come later. “News is a good way to build a brand,” says Ali. “To scale in terms of revenue, that’s where data comes in.”
Ali says he’s had the idea for Skift for more than a year, but he’s been working on it for the past six to eight months. Currently, Skift has four employees. There’s a news editor, a junior editor, and the two cofounders. Ali says he’ll also be hiring a product head and he’ll keep the team small initially — about five or six people. The Skift team will be moving into a New York coworking space soon.
Here’s a blog post Ali and Clampet wrote introducing Skift.
And here’s what Skift looks like: