News

The Hollywood Reporter

Valence Media Invests in News App Zig

Natalie Jarvey:

Valence Media, parent company of The Hollywood Reporter, has made an investment in news startup Zig.

Launched in April by entrepreneurs Joshua James, Adam Platzner and John Tornow, Zig is a personalized news curation tool. Accessed either by website or mobile app, Zig offers a scrolling feed of photos that link out to articles from various sites, from The New York Times to TMZ. The Brooklyn-based company currently has five employees.

Valence Media did not disclose the size of its investment in Zig. Through the deal, Valence joins a roster of previous investors that includes Live Nation, former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, Universal vice chair Ron Meyer and Quincy Jones.

James, who sold his last startup to Warner Music and serves as CEO of Zig, said that the app has grown from 48 users at launch to over 1 million users today. “It’s been an exhilarating few months for us,” he said in a statement. “It’s a nice start, but we are really excited about what’s in front of us.” Platzner, Zig’s president, added, “That we continue to attract investors who not only come to the table with capital, but have expertise, a genuine interest in our business and move things forward, truly inspires us, and speaks to what our team has built.”

Eldridge Industries, led by investor Todd Boehly, consolidated its media and entertainment properties under Valence in February, naming MRC executives Asif Satchu and Modi Wiczyk to lead the new venture. In addition to The Hollywood Reporter, Valence’s properties include Billboard, Golden Globes producer dcp, Ozark producer MRC and a minority stake in film studio A24.

Read about ZIG at The Hollywood Reporter.

Fast Company

Why are media veterans investing in this startup news app?

Cale Guthrie Weissman:

If you’re an investor, you’re always looking to figure out what is next. So it’s interesting to look at the list of investors for the new news curating platform, Zig. Last month, the Brooklyn-based company closed a $1.6 million seed round, and had a varied list of investors–many of whom hail from the old media vanguard.

Vanity Fair’s recently departed iconic editor-in-chief, Graydon Carter, for instance, invested in the company. So did Marc Cimino, chief operating officer of Universal Music Publishing, and Ron Meyer, the vice chairman of NBC Universal and the founder of Hollywood powerhouse CAA. “Technology can do so much good for mankind if we use it the right way,” Quincy Jones said in a statement, “and the Zig team has their finger right on the pulse.” (The music legend is also an investor.)

The problem Zig thinks it’s solving–and what the investors are betting on–is that people aren’t happy with how they find news content. It provides both a website and an app that lets users scroll down through visual-heavy, Instagram-like posts to find the news content they want to read. And it also may provide an antidote to the iron-like grip Facebook and Google, and to a lesser extent Twitter and Apple, hold over the business of news discovery.

The idea came when the cofounders–Zig CEO Josh James, president Adam Platzner, and CTO John Tornow–noticed everyone around them on apps like Instagram, scrolling endlessly through pictures and other visual content. They thought, why not tie that to the news?

Read the full article about ZIG at Fast Company.

Fast Company

What’s Graydon Carter up to? Meet Zig, a media app that just raised $1.6 million

Claire Atkinson:

What does a magazine legend like Graydon Carter do after stepping down from his 25-year run atop Vanity Fair?

Invest in the future of media, it seems.

Carter and a variety of other major media figures including music producer Quincy Jones, NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer, and Marc Cimino, chief operating officer of Universal Music Publishing have invested in Zig, an app described as the “Instagram of News.”

The startup has closed a $1.6 million round, which includes money from venture capitalist Vivi Nevo, investor Alan Docter and LiveNation.

Read the full article about ZIG at NBC News.

The New York Times

ZIG Launches, Counting Former Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter Among Influential Investor Group

Michael M. Grynbaum:

Zig, an app that aims to simplify users’ consumption of news, is Mr. Carter’s first public project since he left Vanity Fair last month. It resembles an Instagram of news: a feed of photographs culled from stories around the web, with the material tailored to a user’s interests.

The idea, said Joshua James, one of the founders, is to deliver useful news without making readers slog through a dozen sites. “I had been going to the same 15 websites for years, and they never knew what I wanted when I got there,” he said.

Mr. Carter offered advice – when the founders considered changing their logo, Mr. Carter said he liked the old one, so it stayed – but his most significant contribution was financial. He is one of several high-profile investors in Zig, along with the music producer Quincy Jones, the Hollywood mogul Ron Meyer and the concert giant Live Nation. Zig declined to disclose how much it had raised.

Mr. James and a co-founder, Adam Platzner, pitched the idea to Mr. Carter at a tech-industry conference hosted by Vanity Fair in 2016. (The third founder is John Tornow.) At the time, Mr. Carter was mulling the state of news; he recalled an assistant pointing out to him that millennials “think in more visual terms, than in textual terms.”

“That sort of sat with me for a bit,” Mr. Carter said. “And then when Josh and Adam came in and saw me and explained Zig, I thought this goes right to that.”

Read the full article about Graydon Carter and ZIG at The New York Times.

CNBC

Social media entrepreneurs with big-name backers hope to change the way people read news

Kellie Ell:

The way consumers get their news keeps changing. But social media users and news junkies alike continue to be enamored with platforms that emphasize images over text.

Joshua James and Adam Platzner, realizing they were spending too much time plowing through multiple websites for their news, decided to create an app where they could get all the news they wanted, tailored to them, on one platform.

Their media curating app Zig launched this week, backed by high-profile names including former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, music producer Quincy Jones, and Creative Artists Agency co-founder Ron Meyer, now vice chairman of Comcast-owned NBCUniversal. Concert ticket-selling giant Live Nation is also an investor.

Based on each individual users’ social media habits, Zig compiles photos and stories from across the internet that might interest each user. The app primarily focuses on pop culture.

“It’s fundamentally changing the publisher model and altering how people are going to be consuming the news,” Platzner, president of Zig, said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Read the full article and view the video about ZIG at CNBC.

Billboard

Live Nation, Graydon Carter, Quincy Jones and Ron Meyer Invest in News Feed for Millennials: Zig

Frank DiGiacomo:

Live Nation, the world's largest producer of live events, along with former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, veteran music producer Quincy Jones and NBCUniversal vice chairman (and Creative Artists Agency co-founder) Ron Meyer are among the investors in Zig.com, a photo, video and celebrity-oriented mobile app that creates a newsfeed for users based on their social media interests -- and then allows them to react to it. [...]

[ZIG CEO Josh James] explains that the ad-supported "publisher-agnostic" app trawls "in real time, every piece of content published from any of the major- to mid- to even small-tier publishers, blogs, et cetera, and we pull all of that content into a massive database." Users who download the app allow Zig to scan their social media history "to find out who and what they do care about and to what degree," he says. "Then we grab the pieces of content we've collected that we think are the most relevant [to each user]," and create a custom newsfeed.

Unlike typical news apps that are more headline and text focused, Zig's feeds emphasize photo and video -- a nod to the popularity of Instagram and the surge of video content online. News items consist of photos or .gifs captioned with a headline; users can swipe left or right to continue viewing the visual content associated with the story, or they can tap the screen to read any text associated with it. "We distill every piece of content into a photo or video," says Platzner. Adds James: "We're taking the clip moving it forward."

Read the full article about ZIG at Billboard.

Wired

Can’t Get Your News From Facebook Anymore? Try These 6 Apps

Josie Colt:

Those who crave news about entertainment and politics should give ZIG a try. By inferring your interests and social media habits from your Facebook and Twitter accounts, ZIG can provide you with a steady stream of trending images and videos it knows you’ll like. You can also browse top stories within categories like entertainment, fashion, music, politics, and sports. There’s also an all-encompassing “ZIG Stream” in the top-left corner of the app, which gives you a river of ZIG’s top stories. One fun addition is the celebrity index that lists celebs from A to Z (plus a “2” category for 2 Chainz) and shows articles about each particular person. Sharing news stories is fun too—ZIG has a bespoke feature called “ZIG React” that lets you add your own custom reactions to stories. Paste a laugh-crying selfie over the news that Chicago is now a baby (Kanye & Kim FTW), for example. You can then share that reaction image with your friends over Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, iMessage, or email. Now that’s spicy.

Read about ZIG and other Facebook news replacements at Wired.

Axios

Media Trends: The “Instagram for news” expands

Sara Fischer, writing about ZIG in Axios Media Trends:

ZIG, the mobile app that delivers news from vetted publishers in the form of mobile pictures and headlines, is launching a website today. It will live on zig.com as well as its Android app. The updates follow a successful launch on iOS in January.

The company, founded by media entrepreneurs Joshua James, Adam Platzner and John Tornow, was initially backed by former Vanity Fair Editor-in-Chief Graydon Carter, music producer Quincy Jones, Ron Meyer, Vivi Nevo, Live Nation, and more.

Some examples of the most engaged people on the app this week ... Kendall Jenner (zig.com/kendalljenner), Jeff Bezos (zig.com/jeffbezos) and Beyonce (zig.com/beyonce)

Read more about ZIG and other media trends at Axios.

Media Post

New Mobile Platform ZIG Delivers Customized Content

Sara Guaglione, in Media Post’s Publishers Daily:

ZIG collects pieces of content from big and mid-sized publishers – such as videos, photos and articles – and pulls the most important photos and news bites and packages it back to users in a feed on the app.

But cofounder Joshua James told Publishers Daily, “We don’t use the ‘a’ word here,” referring to the word “aggregate. We don’t think that’s what ZIG does. Users consume an article by sliding with their finger, and consume main parts that they care about through photos or video,” he said.

ZIG, also cofounded by Adam Platzner and John Tornow, lets users connect their Facebook or Twitter accounts to ZIG, letting them see what users already follow on other social platforms in order to tailor their ZIG feeds.

The idea is to simplify users’ consumption of news with a personalized content stream. “Every time you use the app we are trying to educate ourselves on what you like what you don’t like – what you skip, what you zoom on, did you send it to a friend,” James said.

Read the full article about ZIG at MediaPost.