News Corp is raising its game in digital news again: the company has just announced that it is acquiring Storyful, a Ireland-based “village square” for social media news, aggregating stories found on social media networks like Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, and verifying the sources in the process. The price is €18 million ($25 million).
News Corp. says that it will continue as a standalone company post-acquisition. The news comes as another News Corp. property, the Wall Street Journal, is doubling down on its digital operations, with the launch of WSJD coming up to expand how the storied newspaper expands online, covering tech news and more.
“Storyful has become the village square for valuable video, using journalistic sensibility, integrity and creativity to find, authenticate and commercialise user-generated content,” said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp., in a statement. “Through this acquisition, we can extend the village square across borders, languages and platforms.”
The news comes about a week after another news conglomerate, Scripps, announced that it would acquire digital video startup Newsy for $35 million.
What’s interesting about Storyful is that it provides a verification that allows news organizations to make better use of content posted on social media sites without having to worry that the poster is not genuinely reporting from an event, or is who he/she says he is. That’s particularly handy on certain sites like Instagram, which have yet to start a verification program like Twitter’s. (Although there are some signs that seem to point to something like this on the cards.)
Given that sites like Instagram do not have verification services, how does Storyful work? Malachy Browne, the news editor at Storyful, confirms, “We don’t work organisationally with Instagram (or Facebook) and don’t have contact with them.”
So how does it work? By coincidence, just yesterday Browne had published a blog post describing how Instagram’s video trove had “accidentally” become a well of news content. I contacted him to explain a little more about how Storyful collects and verifies this information:
“Storyful has built internal technology that allow us to monitor Instagram (and other platforms) through its API for user-generated content. Our journalists apply editorial insight (hashtags, proper nouns and other search terms, as well as geo-location information) to the monitoring information and our technology returns a a rich stream of UGC. We don’t have hard statistics on Instagram’s video adoption (hopefully they will publish some), but we regularly see videos emerging on Instagram before other platforms, and Instagram content dominates the stream when we apply filters for geo-located content. It’s revolutionary and we’re looking at some exciting developments in our newsgathering technology in 2014. Details are under wraps for now.”
Prior to this acquisition, Storyful had received an undisclosed investment from ACT Venture Capital’s AIB Start-Up Accelerator Fund.
NEW YORK (December 20, 2013) – Accelerating News Corp’s digital transformation and video strategy, the company has acquired Storyful, the world’s first social news agency.
Building on Storyful’s skill in finding verified news amidst the noise of social media, News Corp will use its own global scale, robust digital presence and advertising expertise to enhance and expand Storyful’s video products and services for newsrooms, advertising agencies and brands. News Corp will also utilize Storyful’s tools to help drive engagement and revenue across News Corp’s businesses.
Storyful, acquired for €18 million (approximately $25 million USD), will operate as a stand-alone business unit within News Corp and continue to work with its existing roster of global customers, which includes The Wall Street Journal.
“Storyful has become the village square for valuable video, using journalistic sensibility, integrity and creativity to find, authenticate and commercialise user-generated content,” said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp. “Through this acquisition, we can extend the village square across borders, languages and platforms.”
The acquisition complements News Corp’s existing video capabilities, which include the creation and distribution of original and on-demand programming, such as WSJ Live and the recently launched BallBall in Asia.
The Dublin, Ireland-based start-up discovers, verifies, acquires and distributes timely and relevant video and user-generated content to its partners. With its combination of proprietary technology and journalistic expertise, Storyful also provides social media dashboards, real-time discovery tools, feeds and analytics to its customers, allowing them to integrate video into their news or advertising efforts via online and mobile platforms and to monitor social conversations and sentiment. So far in 2013, verified user-generated videos managed by Storyful generated 750 million views for its partners.
Added Mr. Thomson, “Video is a vocation for the new News, which will combine with Storyful to reach a growing global audience, enhancing our own editorial products and creating new content communities.”
Storyful’s management team of Chief Executive Officer Mark Little and Executive Editor David Clinch will continue to oversee the company’s operations. Rahul Chopra, Senior Vice President of Video for News Corp, will join the Storyful management team, taking on the additional role of Chief Revenue Officer. Mr. Little will report to David Brinker, News Corp Senior Vice President and Global Head of Business & Corporate Development.
“By joining forces with News Corp, Storyful can quickly transform its vision into a global reality,” said Mr. Little. “We believe that journalism in the age of social media needs to be open, innovative and collaborative, and so does the business model that will sustain it. News Corp is a natural fit for a company which wants to help reinvent the news industry.”
Storyful remains headquartered in Dublin, where the company was founded in 2008. Additional business development and advertising sales staff will be hired and based in New York.
Investors include Ray Nolan, one of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs; SOS Ventures; the Irish State Enterprise Board; ACT Ventures; as well as Mr. Little.