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. ZIG is currently iOS Only with more options to come in the Spring.

Read about ZIG and other Facebook news replacements at Wired.

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.

An Interview with ZIG Founder & CEO Josh James

Tina Tyler interviewed Josh for Tina on Tech:

At first glance, Josh James looks like yet another music executive leaping into the technology space. And why not? From Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine's bite of Apple to Snoop Dog's investment in the sports conversion app GameOn, the technology check is large and seemingly limitless. As former SVP of Live Music for Warner Music Group and founder of BaseCamp Productions where he brought in mega-talent like Pearl Jam, Linkin Park, Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar, Josh James was clearly the go-to guy in music. But his new venture, Zig.com, plays more to his passion for digital media consumption than computer app cliché.

During my recent interview with James, he was both humble and giddy about the recent launch of his new venture, ZIG.com. Zig is a mobile media content platform that collects millions of articles, photos, videos and other published content and in real-time, prioritizes and remixes the content into an immersive, user-centered content stream. Co-founded by Adam Platzner and John Tornow, ZIG is intuitive and initially draws from the social media history and most viewed content sites of each user. From there, a patent-pending algorithm customizes the user stream so that only published content of interest shows up in the streams. The "ZIG react" feature is a cool interactive component where users can superimpose a personal photo or GIF directly on top of the content and share their feeling and opinions across existing social media platforms, texts and emails!

Read the full article and listen to the interview at Tina on Tech.