Tablet Video Startup Watchup Raises $500K From Knight Foundation, News Vets, Others

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Watchup, a StartX-incubated video iPad app that allows users to build their own news playlists, has raised a $500,000 angel round of funding.

It’s an impressive list of investors, including Digital News Ventures, The Knight Foundation (co-founder Adriano Farano was a Knight Fellow at Stanford and Watchup was one of the winners of the Knight News Challenge), former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, and Steve Taylor, who led the development of the Boston Globe’s website Boston.com.

Farano’s goal? To provide the best way for a contemporary audience to watch the news.

“Once upon a time, an entire nation would gather in front of the TV set to get the nightly news and learn what had happened during the day,” he said. “Today, things have changed. Today, we are getting the news through different sources; we are bombarded by all this information. [The Watchup team thinks] that there’s still a need for a special time for getting only the good news, only the high-quality information from professional news channels that can really inform the audience.”

To do that, Watchup offers a curated list of news channels (35 currently), from which you can select the segments that you’re interested in and assemble them into a playlist that runs automatically. That allows you to catch all the day’s news while, for example, you’re eating breakfast or cooking dinner. Ultimately, Farano said he wants to introduce more personalization and automation into the process, so Watchup might eventually select the news that you’re likely to be interested in, with no work required on your end.

The company also works with premium partners, giving them prominent placement in the app in exchange for cross-promotion. The initial partners are The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, Deutsche Welle, and The I-Files.

I also asked about live coverage, since that’s often one of the key components in TV news. Farano said he “doesn’t exclude it for the future,” but it’s not currently in his plans.

“Right now, it’s not the goal, because we think that the live space is pretty crowded,” he said. “If you really want to play and stand out in the game, it’s almost a whole new business.”

You can download the Watchup app here. And here’s the full list of investors:

Digital News Ventures
Knight Foundation (through the Knight News Challenge and the Knight Enterprise Fund)
InnoSpring Fund
TEEC Angel Fund
Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs
Steve Taylor
Gordon Crovitz
Don Hutchinson (former Excite.com executive)
Craig Forman (chairman of Appia and former Yahoo!, WSJ and Time Warner executive)
Jim Friedlich (president of Empirical Media and former WSJ executive)
Henri Deshays (CEO of e-shopping company Modewalk)
Pascal Lorne (former CEO of the recently acquired mobile messaging company Miyowa)

Meet Watchup from Watchup App on Vimeo.